ESTILL SPRINGS, Tenn. (WTVF) — It is a crime that's shocked a small Middle Tennessee town.
Hundreds of dollars were stolen, and a robber was quick to pull a gun.
The police chief said it's yet another sign that big city violence is coming to once-peaceful communities, and he wants the culprit caught.
Estill Springs is a quiet little town in Franklin County — a town with a population of 3,500 and an area of just under five square miles. Violent armed robberies are not supposed to happen here.
Security video shows a masked suspect putting a gun right to the clerk's head and demanding cash.
When was the last time something like this happened in Estill Springs?
"Probably about six years ago. This is very unusual," said police chief Matt Baker.
He said this incident is a disturbing trend in smaller towns like his and others throughout Middle Tennessee.
"It's normally a quiet town, but we've seen an — recently — an increase in crimes," Baker said.
In this case, a masked suspect went into the Speedy Sak around 10:30 p.m. Saturday night.
The suspect put the handgun to the clerk's head and ordered him and an assistant to the floor before then cleaning out the cash register.
The suspect then locked the two men in a backroom before escaping by car.
"He walked in calm and left calm, as though he's done this before," said Baker.
He is working law enforcement in other nearby towns, concerned that armed robbers like this one are cruising the Tullahoma Highway — 41A — and targeting small businesses.
It's fortunate that in this case no one was hurt, but Baker said the clerk was badly shaken.
"He thought he was going to die. He thought they were going to shoot 'em."
The police chief seemed to think the suspect in this robbery has done it before, and hopes the suspect is caught before he does it again.
A reward is offered to anyone with information that leads to an arrest.
If you can help, contact the Estill Springs police department at 931-649-2233.