NEW BRAUNFELS — An armed robbery at a local business turned into a bomb scare Monday afternoon in New Braunfels, according to police and the alleged victim.
Authorities, however, discovered no bomb and cleared the scene after diverting traffic and evacuating a couple of area businesses during the busy lunch hour.
“We got a call from a clerk saying a male came in, robbed the store and left a suitcase,” said Capt. John McDonald of New Braunfels Police Department. “He said, ‘Don’t touch it.’”
The crook’s warning and detectives’ initial investigation led authorities to believe the bag might contain explosives so police cleared the area, McDonald said.
Police got the call about 1:05 p.m. Monday from Amsterdam Smoke Shop, 990 S. Seguin Ave. Hours after the ordeal ended, police released still photographs of the robber taken from video surveillance.
Police described the man as being about 30 years old, standing about 5 feet 11 inches tall, weighing about 220 pounds, and having black hair and a goatee. He wore a black checkered shirt, blue jeans, gloves and black shoes.
The man left the store in an unknown direction in a yellow, older model, four-door Chrysler described as being “beat up,” police said.
Moin Khan, owner of the smoke shop, said he was the victim. Khan said he was working in his shop, which sells tobacco products, when the culprit attacked.
“A guy came in with a gun, showed me the gun and punched me,” Khan said. “He said he wanted a couple (of) tobacco pipes. I gave it to him. Then he said, ‘Give me the money.’”
Khan said he turned over a small amount of cash. Before the thief left, he issued a warning.
“He said, ‘There is a bomb next to the door in a case,’” Khan said.
NBPD officers and New Braunfels Fire Department members diverted traffic away from South Seguin Avenue onto Faust and Nacogdoches streets. They evacuated the smoke shop and a printing shop next door to it.
San Antonio Police Department bomb squad members and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrived to help with the investigation.
Bomb squad members used an explosives-sniffing dog and electronic equipment to check out the briefcase. A squad member eventually went in and exited the building about 2:35 p.m. He was carrying the opened empty suitcase.
Khan said he was dejected about the robbery and bomb threat.
“Things like this happen, man. I guess there are people who don’t want to get a job,” he said. “It’s a shame.”
Police ask anyone with information about the suspect pictured in surveillance photos to contact NBPD Det. Scott Renken at (830) 221-4137 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.