PORTLAND EXXON ROBBED PHOTO

The Portland Exxon convenience store was robbed at knifepoint on June 16.

An investigation remains underway after the Portland Exxon was robbed during the early-morning hours of June 16.

The incident occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m. as two black males arrived at the store.

Surveillance footage shows the two men — who were wearing masks — enter the store and retrieve two bottles of water from the cooler.

With a man wearing a white T-shirt at the register, the other man entered the area where the cash registers are located through a door that was open.

“The door to the register was open, because he (the clerk) was out in the store doing little things like making coffee,” Portland Exxon owner Gary Panchal said.

The other man — who was wearing a black, hooded sweatshirt — was holding a knife in his right hand and demanded that the clerk give him the money from the registers.

The clerk complied, giving the men approximately $1,000.

“We don’t want anybody to get hurt,” Portland Police Chief Jason Williams said. “We hate to see anybody precipitate cause and reaction. It’s property. It’s not worth your life.

“That’s all you can do in that situation, cooperate the best you can and hope for the best.”

Then, both men ran from the store and drove away in a maroon, Pontiac G6 sedan.

“I tell everybody … my employees, they can’t take a risk,” Panchal said. “Just give out the money. We want them safe.

“The money … give it to them so we don’t get hurt. They have families.”

The Portland Police Department retrieved fingerprints from the cooler, and those were sent off to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) lab for further testing.

“You gather evidence the best you can,” Williams said. “We sent prints off to the lab, but that doesn’t help for several months. You hope in your investigation to develop evidence to firm it up.”

Panchal added, “We have security. We have a police department. The police were there. We shut down the store for 2 ½ hours. They did the investigating.”

The cashier — who was the only employee on duty at the time — was not severely affected according to Panchal.

“He’s a very strong employee,” Panchal said. “He’s just a little scared.”

Before arriving at the Portland convenience store, it is believed that the same duo robbed another store in Franklin, Kentucky, and after leaving Portland Exxon, they robbed a Love’s Travel Stop in White House.

“We suspect they’re connected,” Williams said. “They’re pretty certain it’s the same people based on what they’ve seen.”

While at the White House store, they broke the blade of the 10-inch, kitchen knife. Police recovered the knife blade.

“We have several leads,” Williams said. “We are actively working it.”

Panchal — who also owns the Kirby Stop convenience store in Portland — said that one of his stores was robbed during the Christmas holiday season approximately three years ago. He lost approximately $500 in that robbery.

“If I get my money, then, I’m satisfied,” Panchal said. “The police are very nice. All of the police departments are doing a good job. They are helping me. That’s always a good thing.

“I will do charity for the police department. I will help people who do a good job.”

The Portland Police Department is working the case along with police in both Franklin and White House.

“This is not right,” Panchal said. “Common people can’t even walk on the street. That’s not right at all. We need to punish these people.

“I don’t want my business to be taken advantage of. I hope they can get them. If they get them, they have to be punished.”

Williams added, “It’s a violent crime. It’s something we take seriously. We roll out all of our resources to get to the bottom of it. If one agency wins, we all win. That’s the value of networking.”

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