An armed robbery that lasted less than 5 minutes has forever changed the life of a 33-year-old Indio woman, but she said she refuses to let him define her future or steal her livelihood.
The defiant fireball, who stands 5 feet, 2 inches tall, was managing a business in 6800 block of Ramon Road in Cathedral City on Aug. 4 whena white male in his 30s brandished a gun pointing it less than 2 feet from her face. It was shortly after 11:30 a.m.
She had just finished some routine cleaning, exiting the employee room and sat down near the business entrance to take a phone call — all under the ever-watchful eye of five security cameras.
“I noticed somebody walking up,” she said. “We get that all the time, so I just figured it was somebody wanting a dollar or change or something.”
She told the person she was talking to on the phone that she had a customer and walked behind the business counter to properly greet him.
“As soon as I said, ‘Hi,’ he literally pulled a gun out in my face and said, ‘Give me your keys.’
He was wearing a hoodie but it was not covering his face until after he spotted the security camera, then he pulled the hood over his face, she said.
Had he not had a gun in her face, what unraveled next might have been almost comical. She assumed he meant her cash drawer keys so that’s what she relinquished.
“Then he said, ‘Give me all your cash.’ I said I can’t because you took my cash drawer keys,” she said.
He looked down, gave them back to her. She pulled out the entire cash drawer and put it on the desk.
“Here, take it all, just take the whole drawer,” she sniped.
As he snatched the undisclosed amount of cash with one hand, he demanded that she give him her car keys. She wasn’t as willing to part with that as she was with the cash drawer.
“I kind of didn’t want to do that,” she said. “It’s my car. My reaction was, ‘My car?’ I thought dang it. That sucks. So, I reached in my purse and gave him my car keys and he said, ‘Thank you.’ And he just walked out nonchalant like nothing happened, got in my car and drove away.”
She frantically called 911 and simultaneously pushed the silent alarm. She said she tried to remain calm but the stress took an emotional toll and she began to shake and cry.
“It was so fast,” she recalled. “It was minutes. It felt like a lifetime, but it was minutes. Every time I see the video of it, I just think how did that even happen? It was really hard for me to get a description of the man because all I saw was the gun in my face. All I literally saw was that gun in my face.”
As authorities pressed her for a description of the man, she felt in some ways she had failed because she was unable to provide a great deal of specifics.
“All I remember was seeing him walk in,” she said. “It was a blur. I was so numb. Honestly, I feared for my life. If it had been a sticky note that said give me all your cash, even a knife, I think I would have reacted differently. But just knowing he had a gun… I don’t know if it was fake or real. It was just the fact of having that in your face. In that state, all I thought about was my husband and is this guy going to kill me?”
She said she has heard and read about other people being robbed at gunpoint, even in the vicinity, and always wondered how they coped. Never, she said, did she think she would be a victim.
“I was in such a state of shock,” she recalled about a week after the robbery. “I was literally numb. I was so scared. I really thought he was going to kill me over a cash drawer. I was hoping he wasn’t that stupid, to be honest, but you never know.”
She is back at work but acknowledges being paranoid and scared. She constantly replays the day, the details, and the images in her mind.
“I’m trying to get over that part,” she said. “There are always the what ifs, but I can’t dwell on the what ifs. They didn’t happen, which is good. I did what I was supposed to do. I didn’t fight him. I didn’t say no. I just gave him what he asked for.”
For a minute, just a minute, she contemplated quitting her job. “I like my job and I don’t want somebody that did that to me, run me out of my job,” she said as that defiant demeanor reared its head. “I don’t want to let him have control over me. It’s bad enough that I’m scared. He’s got it imprinted in my head that I now need to fear people, but as far as work… he doesn’t get that. I just hope they catch him.”