LUMBERTON — Lawmen are investigating the possibility that two armed robberies on Wednesday morning were committed by the same person or people.
The first robbery occurred at Billy Cox Grocery and Market, forcing a temporary lockdown of two nearby schools, and the second occurred at the Valero store in Lumberton. No one was injured in either robbery.
According to Lumberton police Capt. Terry Parker, a man armed with a weapon entered the Valero store, located at 2301 Lackey St., at 11:36 a.m. and escaped with an undisclosed amount of money. The man was wearing what appeared to be a long sleeve jacket or coat, a mask covering his face, and gloves.
Parker was aware of the earlier robbery, and said city police were “exploring” rather they were related.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Yvette Pitts, of the Lumberton Police Department, at 910-671-3845.
About two hours earlier, a masked man who was armed with a firearm robbed Billy Cox Grocery and Market at 9108 N.C. 41 North. East Robeson Primary, which is at 4840 Seventh Street Road, and Littlefield Middle, which is at 9674 N.C. 41 North, were placed on lockdown from about 9:26 a.m. to shortly after noon. During a lockdown, classes continue as normal but no one is allowed to enter or exit the school building.
“The principals at the two schools were able to effectively administer the lockdown procedures without interrupting the education of our students,” Superintendent Shanita Wooten said. “We are grateful to them (lawmen) and their staff, as well as local law enforcement as everything is now back to our normal routine.”
Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said the gunman, who was dressed in all black, fired shots inside the store and was able to escape with an undisclosed amount of money.
“We were told he ran to the left of the store into a mobile home park on Highway 41,” Sealey said. “We are asking for the public’s help with any information about this robbery.”
The Robesonian will update this story as developments warrant.