Portland, Ore. — In July 2017, a gunman stormed into a Northeast Portland restaurant and demanded cash.
Surveillance video from the robbery shows several customers caught in the middle of the crime. They faced a tough decision: Should they run, hide, or fight for their lives?
Every day, there are roughly 900 robberies in the United States, according to the FBI. In many of those cases, convenience store clerks, bartenders and customers are forced to react. Their decisions could help – or hurt – their chances of escape.
So, what should you do if you’re caught in the middle of an armed robbery?
To find out, KGW turned to a personal security expert and former police officer.
Mark Gadostik, owner of TNT Martial Arts in Hillsboro, offered the following tips:
1. Scan Your Surroundings
The moment you walk into a convenience store or restaurant, start looking around. Scan the area from left to right. Smile or wave at the cashier. Make sure you are not walking into a dangerous situation.
2. Look For Escape Route
As you scan the store, be looking for an exit. If something goes wrong, you’ll need to get out.
“Where are my emergency exits? Not just regular exits but through the back door, through the kitchen,” said Gadostik.
3. If You Can’t Escape, Hide
Get under a restaurant table or hide in the store aisle behind a display. Stay low. If you can, hide in the back of the store. Stay away from the front counter or cash register. Remember, the crooks don’t want you, they want the money.
4. Stay Calm and Silent
Don’t yell or scream. Avoid speaking with the robber.
“Don’t debate -- telling him that what he is doing is wrong. That keeps him here longer and increases the anxiety level,” explained Gadostik.
5. Don’t Act Threatening
If you’re confronted by a robber armed with a knife or gun, make sure you are not threatening. Change your posture by looking down and turning your body away from the bad guy. Don’t try and act tough.
6. Fight for your life!
This is the last resort. Only fight if your life depends on it. Only fight if you have the tools and training.
“If you’re not trained for it -- you’ve just watched a lot of things on TV -- absolutely not,” explained Gadostik. “You’re probably going to get yourself hurt or killed.”
7. Be a Good Witness
Once police arrive, they’re going to want a good description of the suspect. Be aware of the robber’s shoes, pants, belt, shirt and face.