The clerk working inside the St. Clair One Stop Phillips 66 gasoline service station said quick action by her father-in-law prevented the teenager who allegedly robbed the store from getting away with all of the money that he had demanded and had been given moments earlier.
Susan Wright, who was the lone employee working at the business at 1125 Sycamore Lane, said she was robbed and threatened at knifepoint at about 1:45 p.m. on Monday by a male who entered the store wearing a handkerchief over his face.
After the robbery, the 17-year-old suspect fled on foot and was apprehended 2 1/2 hours later, at about 4:15 p.m., without incident at a residence in the Crescent Village Mobile Home Park just south of the gas station.
The teen was charged on Tuesday with felony first-degree robbery and felony armed criminal action. He was identified as Joseph Daniel Shine of St. Clair.
A cash-only bond of $100,000 was set. Charges were filed through the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
“He (suspect) came in and demanded money,” Wright told The Missourian from outside the gasoline station shortly after the incident occurred. “He pulled a knife and yelled, ‘Give me the money.’
“I was really scared, so, I gave him what I had in the cash drawer.”
Information from the St. Clair Police Department stated that the suspect threatened to kill the clerk if she didn’t cooperate.
Wright said after the male took the money from her, he started to leave when her father-in-law, who was inside the store when the robbery occurred, met the suspect at the front door and pushed him.
“He dropped most of the money,” Wright said. “My father-in-law heard what was going on and tried to stop him.”
Wright said the suspect fell down after he was pushed but got back up and fled with the cash he still had in his possession.
The clerk told The Missourian she thinks she gave the person between $800 and $900 when he demanded the money and wielded the knife. A probable cause statement filed by St. Clair Police listed the amount of money at $787.
After he fell down, he still had about $100 to $150, the clerk said.
Wright said there were four other people inside the store with her at the time of the incident, including her father-in-law. No one was injured.
The clerk said she and the others inside the store collected the dropped money.
At the Scene
St. Clair police officer Mark Debrecht, who was making an unrelated traffic stop in front of the One Stop at the time of the incident, observed an individual near the front of the business collecting money off the ground. Debrecht then said he heard someone near the store yell that the business had been robbed. The officer pulled away from the traffic stop and made contact with a witness.
The witness said that the suspect had left the store and fled on foot around the north end of the building. Debrecht radioed the information and attempted to locate the individual on foot but was unsuccessful.
Additional St. Clair police officers quickly were dispatched to the scene and were joined by Franklin County Sheriff’s Office personnel and Missouri Highway Patrol troopers.
The entire business, including the gasoline pumps, was taped off while witnesses were interviewed and the investigation continued.
The area around the store was canvassed for clues while the search began for the suspect.
According to reports, the suspect was described as a tall, thin, white man wearing dark pants, a dark jacket and a tan baseball hat. He also was wearing the handkerchief over his face at the time of the robbery.
According to the police report, the clerk identified the person as an individual who has frequented the establishment in the past.
During the investigation, St. Clair Police Chief Bill Hammack said his department received an anonymous tip saying there was an individual who appeared to be watching police drive through Crescent Village.
The caller told police the man was behaving suspiciously, and he had entered a mobile home in the 100 block of Quail Ridge.
Officers responded to that residence and located and arrested Shine, who previously was identified as the robbery suspect.
Hammack said police located evidence from the robbery inside the residence. Officers also located articles of clothing that the suspect shed and left in a field and wooded area located between the service station and the residence where the suspect was found.
A phone blast sent by St. Clair R-XIII School District Superintendent Mike Murphy at about 2:45 p.m. informed parents that because of the incident, schools were placed on “modified lockdown” because of the robbery.
That meant all outside doors were locked and secured and that no students were allowed to leave school buildings.
The phone blast also incorrectly stated that a man had been apprehended by that time. Central office secretary Joyce Strothcamp told The Missourian that school district personnel received conflicting reports and that they inadvertently put out the incorrect information.
An email sent by Murphy at the same time of the phone blast stated, “Schools lockdown due to armed robbery. Police catch suspect all clear.”
The email was sent at 2:42 p.m.
Despite the miscommunication, students in St. Clair schools were dismissed as usual without incident at the end of the school day.
Editor's note: The charges were filed after the deadline for the St. Clair Missourian's Wednesday print edition. This is the updated story.