CYNTHIA CALVERT-HUMBLE TRIBUNE
Three armed men robbed the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, or HAAM, this morning in a violent confrontation. HAAM is located in Humble on First Street.
Three men wearing dark sunglasses and bandanas covering more than half their faces burst through the back door of the HAAM Resale Shop, yelling, waving guns and demanding the shop’s safe be opened.
A nearby employee was grabbed by one of the men who pointed a gun to his head and demanded he call for the store manager. The robber knew the manager’s name and specifically called for him to be summoned to the back. (The Tribune is not printing the employees’ names).
The young employee was forced at gunpoint to call for the manager, who was in the front of the shop. As he walked to the back, he was also grabbed, a gun was pointed at his head and his shirt was torn off. The robber yelled for him to open the safe and as he was attempting to do that, the robber knocked him down to the ground.
The third robber grabbed a volunteer and choked her by her neck, all the while pointing his pistol at her.
The safe was opened and all the money was taken. Cellphones, purses and other valuables were stolen from the younger employee and others nearby at the back of the store.
Millie Garrison, interim executive director of HAAM, was in her office about 10 a.m. immediately across the street from the shop, when a volunteer came flying out of the shop, running into the administration building yelling, “They have guns! There are men in there with guns.”
Garrison immediately called 9-1-1, summoning the Humble Police Department.
Garrison has nothing but praise for the Humble police, who she said, were in the parking lot before she got from her desk to the door of the building.
“It was very scary,” Garrison said. “They were violent, angry and all held guns on the staff.”
Garrison said the robbers apparently parked near the post office and kicked in the fence which separates the post office from HAAM. Then they walked in through a back door, yelling and demanding the safe be opened.
“Our young employee was forced to call for our manager, knowing the frightening scene he was calling him to,” said Garrison. “It breaks my heart to think about it.”
During the 10-minute episode, the robbers made a decisive error. They stole the i Phone of the younger employee.
After the trio had fled and the police arrived, the young employee told the police how to use Garrison’s cell phone to initiate tracking. The Humble police were immediately able to locate the signal and proceeded to follow it.
Humble Police notified the Harris County Sheriff’s Office they were in pursuit of robbery suspects using a tracking device. As the chase unfolded down Beltway 8, the suspects crashed into the freeway retaining wall. Harris County Precinct 3 constable deputies joined the chase. And the robbers began throwing money from the car windows.
A second crash so jarred the hood of the suspects’ vehicle, it was in danger of falling off completely. As the police closed in, the men attempted to flee on foot but were captured.
Garrison said the store manager, the volunteer and the younger employee are all badly shaken as the scene was terrifying. The manager is recovering from a heart attack some months ago so Garrison had an ambulance called to the scene. The manager was deemed in satisfactory condition.
It is obvious that the robbers were familiar with the shop’s operations, layout and knew the manager had the ability to open the safe, since they called for him by name, said Garrison.
HAAM often allows felons to serve community service sentences sorting through HAAM’s donations. Garrison does not know, but suspects, that these three have been in the shop before while serving community sentences.
Garrison has closed the facility for the day and is currently working with the police department to gather all the available information.
PHOTOS BY PATSY OLIVER