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Masked man with sawed-off shotgunrobs Black Diamond market in Lee

WALTER LITTRELL • Mar 5, 2007 at 11:21 AM

EWING - Authorities are seeking a lone gunman who robbed the Black Diamond No. 2 market of an undetermined amount of money late Wednesday evening at the point of a sawed-off shotgun.

Investigator Capt. Taylor Scott of the Lee County Sheriff's Department said the man walked into the market, located between Thomas Walker High School and the four-lane, just before it closed at 11 p.m. Wednesday. The man was carrying a sawed-off shotgun and demanded all the money from the clerk. When the clerk complied, the robber fled the store on foot, said Scott. The clerk was unable to determine in which direction the robber left.

Scott said the robber was wearing camouflage clothing and a ski mask, weighs approximately 150 pounds, and is between 5 feet 6 inches and 5 feet 8 inches tall. While the clerk was alone in the store during the robbery, a customer came into the store as the robber was leaving, said Scott. He added that the entire incident was caught on the store's video surveillance equipment, and the tape has been taken into evidence.

The sheriff's department was assisted in the investigation by the Virginia State Police, which brought in a tracking dog that found and followed a trail for approximately one-quarter mile. Scott declined to reveal in which direction the trail led but did say use of the dog allowed the investigators to recover some physical evidence a short distance away from the store. The investigator also declined to give specifics on what that evidence may have been. He said it is "possible" that the track the dog followed ended where a getaway vehicle may have been waiting.

For several reasons, he said, investigators have developed some suspects in the case, and he said officers were still actively trying to locate those persons Thursday afternoon.

Sheriff Gary Parsons encouraged anyone with information on the robbery, or anyone who may have been in the area and seen anything that may be connected with the holdup, to contact his office at (276)346-7777.

Information may be given anonymously at the department's Tips hotline at (276)346-7707. Confidential tips may also be left at the sheriff's department Web site: www.leecountysheriff.net/tips.htm.

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