Gas station clerks on edge after series of armed robberies, legislators calling for action

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (December 21, 2015) –Two armed robberies at gas stations around Indianapolis in five days have clerks on edge and lawmakers advocating for stricter laws protecting those employees.

The latest robbery happened Sunday night at the Phillips 66 on Michigan Road. 

Two men came into the gas station and demanded money from the clerks. One employee, Manjit Singh, 50, came out from behind the counter and tried to fight the men off. One suspect shot Singh, and then the two suspects ran out of the store.

“The store clerk got very heroic," IMPD Officer Christopher Wilburn said. "I don’t think very many people would have done what this store clerk did."

Medics took Singh to IU Health Methodist Hospital for his injuries and Wilburn said he will survive.

Last week, two armed men broke into the Village Pantry and the intersection of 86th and Ditch on Wednesday. The men held the clerk up at gunpoint and got away with what was in the register.

IMPD is asking for the public's help for any information related to these two cases. The recent crimes are again reigniting the conversation about adding protections for gas station clerks through legislation at the state level.

“What pains me is that these people are providing a basic service for a very low wage and they shouldn’t have to have the risk of a fatal or critical injury as part of the job," State Rep. Ed Delaney (D-Indianapolis) said. "So we need to do something about it."

Delaney has proposed Marcy's Law several times in the Indiana House. Marcy's Law was inspired by Marcy Birnell, a former gas station clerk who was shot in the head at the same Village Pantry that was robbed Wednesday at 86th and Ditch.

The law would create incremental security measures for gas stations based  on how many times they have experienced violent crimes.  The law would suggest gas stations having only one entrance, good lighting, security cameras and no signs on the windows so clerks can see who is coming in as basic security measures.

If violent crimes continued at specific gas stations, the stores could then be required to install bullet-resistant glass around the registers or even close down during the night.

“The business owners do not recognize a problem, because they are not personally affected," said Perry Tole, Marcy Brinel's brother-in-law. "One of their workers being shot every couple of years is the cost of doing business.”

Tole has worked closely in recent years to try to get Marcy's Law through the legislature. He said he doesn't want other families to have to go through what he has had to.

“It has changed our lives entirely," Pole said. "The plans that I had with my wife for our future, what we were going to do some years ago, have just been you know shot out of the window."

Delaney said he will reintroduce the legislation in 2016 and is hopeful it will pass. He said there are a few projects he may be able to work with the convenience store industry on to make the added security measures part of the deal.

“I just wish this just didn’t keep coming up, I mean I really do," Delaney said. "They aren’t making a lot of money should not have to take this risk that they are randomly going to be gunned down.”

 

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