Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - Updated: 10:38 AM
By Rachel Keller Collins
Police continue to search for the man who robbed the Sharpe Dollar General Store at gunpoint last Friday afternoon.
Detective Captain Matt Hilbrecht of the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, lead detective in the case, said officers were dispatched last Friday at around 1:30 p.m. to the Dollar General Store on U.S. 68 W. in Sharpe. Deputies from both the MCSO and the McCracken County Sheriff’s Office searched the nearby vicinity for the get-away vehicle captured in the store’s video surveillance, a late 90s or early 2000s model teal/green Ford F150 or Ford Ranger that had stickers on the back window, but with no luck.
Hilbrecht said according to video surveillance and witness statements, a man entered the store and picked up a gallon of distilled water before heading to the register. Once there, he pulled up his shirt and pulled out a semi-automatic pistol, pointing it at the cashier and demanding all the money in the drawer. Hilbrecht said the man also demanded money from a customer standing next to him in line but the customer insisted she didn’t have any money because she didn’t have a job. The man took the $247 in cash from the register, had both women lie on the ground, and then left with the money and the jug of water.
Hilbrecht said there was an elderly lady shopping during the incident and there were two other employees at the store that were working on taking out the trash. He said while no one was physically harmed, the cashier was “shaken up.”
“She was very emotionally distraught,” Hilbrecht said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a robbery and seen someone so shaken up, which is pitiful because she seemed like a very sweet lady.”
After sharing basic information about the suspect with the community, Hilbrecht said, leads started pouring in and it wasn’t too long before police were able to develop enough information for an arrest warrant. On Saturday evening, Jan. 14, Kentucky State Police served the arrest warrant to a man in Eddyville and delivered him to the Marshall County Detention Center where he was charged with robbery 1st degree, a Class B felony punishable by 10-20 years in a state penitentiary, and lodged in the Marshall County Detention Center on a $250,000 cash bond.
But Hilbrecht said he knew something was wrong when he walked into the room Monday morning to interview the suspect, which was the first time he had seen the man who was arrested.
“The first thing I noticed was the tattoos all over his hands and in the surveillance video from the incident, you can clearly see the man who did this didn’t have any tattoos on his hands,” he said. “In 18 years I’ve never had this happen to me. We made the arrest based on the identification made by the victims at the scene and it turns out, they identified the wrong man. I’m doing everything I can to make this right; I’m not in the business of putting the wrong people in jail.”
Hilbrecht said officers typically take more time to gather corroborating evidence before making an arrest based solely on the identification made by witnesses “but time isn’t a luxury we felt we had knowing we’re dealing with a guy who’s pulling guns on people and robbing stores in residential areas.”
Hilbrecht said he was able to verify the man in custody was not the suspect for whom they were searching and by Monday afternoon the man had been released from custody and Hilbrecht personally drove the man back home.
Hilbrecht said the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to call Crimestoppers at 270-527-COPS (2677) or the sheriff’s office at 270-527-3112.