No help as liquor store owner robbed, pistol-whipped

BY BILL BROWN

They came through the door “like a bullet.”

One of them pressed a gun to the liquor store owner’s head, ordering him to open the safe or die.

“I’ll count to ten!” the gunman said, according to store owner Sarbjit Singh Kochhar.

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Security camera film shows gun wielding robber threatening store owner Singh after leaping onto counter-top.

When the robber reached five, “Singh,” as he is popularly known, said he couldn’t remember the combination. In fact, Singh knew how to open it, but, he thought, “let them work hard for it.”

“Take the whole safe!” he told the two masked men. They did, removing it from Singh’s S&S Liquor store in Takoma, DC. The store is at the junction of Cedar Street, Blair Avenue and 4th Street, NW, near the Takoma Metro station. Singh also owns  Cedar Crossing Tavern and Wine Bar across the street.

The robbers dropped the awkward, 100 lb safe three times before they got it out the door, said Singh. The safe contained between $3000 and $5000, he said.

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Another security camera filmed robber carrying away the safe.

Then, the gunman returned and again rushed the counter where Singh and employee Felix “Noe” Valladares were crouching. Perched on the counter-top, he snatched a bottle of tequila from a high shelf above their heads.

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Security camera image shows robber reaching for Tequila bottle over the heads of Singh and Valladeres.

It was “unprofessional,” scoffed Singh. As was leaving fingerprints and footprints on the counter, he said.

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S&S Liquor store owner Sarbjit Singh Kochhar.

For a while after the Friday Sept. 6 robbery Singh said he felt fine despite a blow to the head with the gun. But, “now, I’m feeling down,” he said on Tuesday, Sept. 10.

Though many customers and friends have dropped by the store or contacted him to offer support and sympathy, Singh is dispirited. While the robbery unfolded over about 5 minutes, none of the 6-8 customers who were there or who entered called the police, despite his hand signals to do so.

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Employee Felix “Noe” Valladares.

One customer took the opportunity to stroll out with a six-pack of beer.

That man since returned to pay for it, said Singh.

Another can be seen in security film footage politely sliding his six-pack aside as a robber leapt onto the counter.

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Singh called the police as soon as the robbers left. He praised the Washington, DC 4th District police officers who responded.

Police are looking for three people, the two robbers and a get-away driver.

The robbers are both described as slim, light-complexioned black males, aged 17 – 23.

The get-away car is described as a light green Ford Taurus with Maryland license plates.

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About the Author

Bill Brown
Bill Brown moved to Takoma Park in 1982. He has been involved in journalism in one way or another since he co-published an underground high-school newspaper in the late 1960s.