INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. —Guns were drawn at a Family Dollar store on Indy’s east side as two armed robbers came face-to-face with an armed security guard.
It happened at the Family Dollar at 3712 E 25th Street on December 27 just after 9 p.m.
No one was hurt, but robberies at these stores continue to happen. That same store has seen 13 robberies in the last five years. On Wednesday night alone, armed robbers targeted four other dollar stores in Indianapolis, according to reports from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
"As soon as I turned, I saw the gun and two kids with their hoodies drawn completely over their face," said security guard Kenneth Benge.
Benge is a security guard with Lonestar Security. He was hired to patrol the Family Dollar on E 25th Street just weeks after a clerk was shot at the store back in October.
As one robber pointed the gun at the clerk and demanded money, the other pointed his gun at Benge.
"The kid that was pointing the gun at me was just yelling that he wanted to go home," Benge said. "He seemed like he was really really nervous."
Benge says the two suspects seemed to be about 16 years old. While Benge was not hired as an armed guard, he was carrying his own personal gun.
He pulled it when the two suspects entered the store.
"I told him alright, I'm going to lower my weapon, just don’t hurt the cashier,” Benge said. "I took a high risk of him obviously shooting me when I lowered my weapon, but it was the risk I had to take to make sure the cashier didn't get hurt."
"He did lower his weapon, they got what they wanted, and away they went.”
It’s the third time in three months this store was robbed. According to IMPD reports, the store was robbed on October 8 and October 15. During the robbery on the 15th, the cashier was shot, and Lonestar was brought in for a short-term contract starting in November.
"Most of the time these companies hire us just temporarily for 90 days just to ease the employees and then we’re out the door," said Lonestar Security CEO Taylor Wurr. "Then it happens again, and we’re right back.”
Wurr says he also worked at a Dollar General store shortly after a clerk was killed. He says the contracts usually ask for unarmed guards, but they sometimes end up carrying their own concealed weapon like Benge did last month.
"They requested that we don't have access to weapons, but I don't have the power to be searching my employees if they have guns in their pants or not,” Wurr said. "I've been trying to get the contract to go armed so we’ll have a duty belt with a weapon, handcuffs and pepper spray to just give that visual deterrent because I don't think the unarmed position is working very well.”
As for the four stores robbed Wednesday, they combine for 30 robberies in five years. One location, a Family Dollar at 2305 W Michigan Street, was hit four times just last month.
The other three stores include a Family Dollar at 131 W 38th St, and Dollar General locations at 3629 Commercial Drive and 6655 W Washington St.
“I hope Family Dollar sees this situation, and it opens their eyes to go armed, and I hope all the other locations do too,” Wurr said.
As for Benge, he feels the gun he drew may have kept the clerk safe, and the decision to holster it kept everyone else safe too.
"At the end of the day, I just didn't think that killing or injuring two 16 or 17-year-old men was worth the $100, $150 dollars they got,” Benge said. "Money can be replaced, but people can't.”
If you have any information on this case, contact crime stoppers at 317-262-TIPS.