HARTFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — Surveillance video shows a boy calmly pull a pistol from his backpack, point it at a woman and then fire a shot into the ceiling as he robbed a gas station in southwestern Michigan Wednesday.
“It all happened real fast,” the cashier at the gas station told News 8.
The cashier, who asked to be identified only as Jessica, told News 8 she had never seen the boy before. She said he walked into the gas station convenience store on Main Street near S. East Street in Hartford just before 4 p.m. Wednesday carrying a backpack.
“He walked in and he stood by the door and he just kind of stared at me,” she recalled.
Jessica said she asked him if he needed anything and he declined, getting in line behind a customer. When that customer finished checking out, the 12-year-old walked up to the counter.
“As he was walking up, he pulled the gun out of his pocket and put the bag on the counter at the same time and told me, ‘Give me all your money,’” Jessica said. “I asked him, ‘Are you serious?’ and he said, ‘Yes,’ and he fired a round. He said, ‘Put all your money in my bag.’”
Jessica said a customer behind the boy ran out of the store.
“I didn’t know what to think,” she said. “I got in the safe. I grabbed a bag of money and I put it in his bag and he ran out.”
Surveillance cameras caught the whole thing, which show it lasted only about 16 seconds. The video shows the boy pulled the handgun from his bag, pointed it at Jessica and said, “Put the money in the bag.” Jessica was visibly stunned.
“What?” she said.
“Put the money in the bag,” the boy repeated.
“Are you serious?” she asked.
In the video, the boy can be seen pointing the gun at the ceiling and firing a single shot.
“Yeah,” he said, sounding mildly annoyed.
“OK!” Jessica said.
As the boy cleared a jam from the pistol, Jessica can be seen going to the safe and getting a bank deposit bag. She put it in the boy’s backpack.
“Here,” she said.
“Get out,” she told another person who was walking in to the store.
“Here,” she repeated to the boy. “Take it.”
The boy took the bag and walked away. As he exits frame, he can be seen appearing to put the gun back in the backpack.
Jessica immediately called 911, clearly distressed. In that call, she expressed astonishment at how young the boy was.
“It was a kid! It was just a little boy with a black bag! … He was just a little boy. He was probably like, I don’t know, like maybe 10? Ten or 11?” she can be heard telling the 911 dispatcher. “He was so young. I didn’t know what — I thought he was (expletive) with me.”
Hartford police got to the gas station in about four minutes, the surveillance video shows. They say they caught the boy soon after.
Police say the bag of cash contained thousands of dollars.
Jessica has been working as a cashier at the Hartford Marathon for almost a year and said nothing like this has ever happened to her before. While she said she thought about not returning to work the next day, ultimately, she came in.
“Gotta work,” she said.
On Thursday morning, she put a sign up in the storefront window that reads, “No backpacks allowed in store.”
Police say the boy got the handgun from a locked cabinet in the home where he lived. He pried open the cabinet to get the gun, which belonged to his guardian.
“It’s the same age as my youngest. It’s sad,” Jessica said. “Parents aren’t doing their jobs.”
—News 8’s Carter Gent contributed to this report.