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Video report - Armed robber takes 13 snakes from Kingsport pet shop; Kitchen Shop also robbed minutes earlier

CHRISTAN M. THOMAS • Jan 31, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Kingsport Detective Chris Tincher checks the door of Mary's Kitchen Shop for fingerprints Thursday afternoon. Photo by Erica Yoon.


KINGSPORT - Kingsport investigators aren’t sure yet if a robbery at Mary’s Kitchen Shop Thursday afternoon was committed by the same man who took cash and 13 snakes at gunpoint from Pet Cove about 10 minutes later.

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Mary’s Kitchen Shop is owned by Kingsport Alderman Pat Shull and his wife, Mary.

According to police, Mrs. Shull was alone in shop at 213 E. Center Street when a man entered and asked that she open the cash register. Detective Chris Tincher said the suspect did not display a weapon.

"(He said) 'Just open the register; I just need money. I hate to do this, but I need money,' " Mrs. Shull said.

"He had kind of a different cadence to his voice. He came in and walked around (the counter). I opened the drawer with my key and stepped back and let him do what he was going to do," she said.

Mrs. Shull said the man then asked for a money bag, but the store did not have one. He then asked her to go to the back of the store and left.

Mrs. Shull said he got away with approximately $140 in cash.

The incident occurred at approximately 1:20 p.m.

Tincher said officers searched the area, but were unable to find anyone matching the description of the suspect.

"We processed the scene for prints on anything he might have touched," Tincher said. "We’re checking the area, talking to other people, other businesses. We’re checking for cameras that might have captured him in the area."

Police said the suspect is a white male, about 5’10” tall and of slender build.

At the time of the robbery, he was wearing a green, zip-up jacket, blue jeans and a black knit cap.

Tincher said the suspect may have decided to enter Mary’s Kitchen Shop after seeing that Mrs. Shull was alone in the store.

"Opportunity, that’s my guess," Tincher said.

In addition, police are investigating an incident that occurred at approximately 1:30 p.m. at the Pet Cove, 820 E. Center Street.

KPD Detective Sergeant Gerald Hurd said an unidentified while male entered the Pet Cove and forced the lone employee on duty into the store’s back room. The employee was bound and the suspect left with an undetermined amount of money.

Police said the robber was interested in the snake displays and visited the store the night before looking at snakes.

Aside from cash, the suspect took a snake cage and 13 snakes, consisting of pythons, boas, and corn snakes. The clerk escaped and notified police, but the robber had already run away.

The suspect is thought to be in his late 30s, approximately 5’6” to 5’8” tall, with a slender build and possibly with facial hair. He was wearing a black coat, possibly leather, and a baseball cap.

He might be driving a dark gray Toyota pickup with an extended cab, camper top and eight ball on the radio antenna. Police say his name might be Rick, and that he told the clerk he is from Florida.

Anyone with information on either incident should contact the Kingsport Police Department at 246-9111 or CID- 229-9429.

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