Punk scared off by armed store owner

Surveillance video from outside Serrata's Grocery Store captures an image of a man who tried to hold up the store at gunpoint.
Surveillance video from outside Serrata's Grocery Store captures an image of a man who tried to hold up the store at gunpoint.
Posted: March 06, 2014

TWO SIGNS greet customers as they approach the front door of Serrata's Grocery Store in West Oak Lane: "No weapons allowed" and "Do not enter with mask or hoodie."

They sit at eye level - it's impossible to miss them. But a would-be robber ignored both of those warnings Friday and ended up dodging bullets for his brazenness, police said yesterday.

Store owner Raul Serrata, 42, said he didn't have time to think when a masked punk entered his corner store, at 75th Avenue and Walnut Lane, with a handgun drawn and demanded money from him about 7:15 Friday night.

"It all happened in a few seconds," Serrata said. "I never expected anything like this."

Footage from the store's surveillance cameras shows Serrata telling the assailant that he'll hand the money over before calmly walking out from behind the plexiglass partition guarding the cash register.

The store owner then slips his Taurus 9 mm pistol out of his waistband and fires two shots at the masked man, who panics and flees the scene.

The bullets missed their mark, but Serrata hopes they sent a message.

"I'm only trying to work and support my family," he said. "The economy is bad, and everyone is struggling. I have to protect myself and what's important to me."

Serrata, who lives on Walnut Lane just a few blocks from the store, doesn't think that the robber is someone he's seen before in his business. In fact, he firmly believes that the gunman came from outside West Oak Lane.

Since the incident, Serrata has been on edge. This is the second time he's had a gun waved in his face: The first time, a similar, albeit successful, robbery in 2010, is what inspired him to buy his gun in the first place.

"I'm scared. I feel differently about the area now," he said. "If [the gunman] comes back, who will protect me?"

Police haven't made any arrests in the incident and are seeking the public's help in catching the robber, police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said last night. The suspect is said to be a black male about 6 feet tall with a medium build. He was wearing a black ski mask, dark-green North Face jacket, jeans and gloves when he entered the store.

Tipsters should contact police at 215-686-8477.


On Twitter: @Vellastrations

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