Family shop terrorized by robbers

May 27, 2009 8:56:50 PM PDT
Eight Houstonians were tied up and robbed at a local pawn shop Wednesday. "This is not some random guys coming in saying this is a hold up," said hardware store owner John Downing.

In the 30 years the Downing family has owned the Ace Pawn Shop, nothing has happened quite as terrifying as what happened Wednesday.

"He had the pistol right in my face," John described.

The suspects, at least six Hispanic men, were all armed when they barged into the store taking the entire place hostage. Employee Marshall Jones figured it might be the end.

"When they had gloves and stuff and that was it, and zip ties I thought they were going to shoot all of us right then," he recalled.

"It's just scary to know that you got family that's being held at gunpoint and hogtied," John said.

Jeff Downing, the owner's grandson and city council candidate, believes whoever did this was part of some organized ring. Just this past February, a similar crime happened at the Fiesta Pawn Shop near The Heights. Several other stores have also been targeted.

"Obviously we got a problem with crime in this area," Jeff said.

In Downing's case, the crooks made off with nearly half a million dollars in cash and jewelry.

And although no one seriously hurt, the Downing's worry about what happens next time.

"They will definitely do it again, they won't stop until their caught or killed, one of the two," John said.

There have been 13 pawn shop robberies in the Houston area from January to March. That's compared to 11 in 2008. Police cannot tell us if any of these robberies are connected.

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