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Armed robberies in Pierce County up 71% since 2017

On Sunday, two suspects entered Lake Tapps Deli and aimed a gun at the clerk and threatened to shoot. They left with money, keys to the store and the clerk's purse.

TACOMA, Wash. — Lake Tapps Deli on Forest Canyon Road was the site of an armed robbery in Pierce County on Sunday.

Michele Haney has been working at the deli for just three months, and was shocked to hear about what happened to her colleague.

"I don't know what I would do in the same situation, and she's a very calm, stoic person…I just don't know what I would do," Haney said.

Surveillance video from the incident showed two male suspects walk into the store and immediately pull out a gun and point it at the clerk. They demanded money and threatened to shoot her.

As the clerk passed the cash to him, the second suspect walked behind the counter. Investigators from the Pierce County Sheriff's Department (PCSD) said they were trying to open the safe.

After a while, the two suspects ran out of the store with the store's cash, keys to the store and the clerk's purse.

Sgt. Darren Moss with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department says armed robberies were up 71% last year compared to the last five year average.

"To wrap your mind around it, 5% is a big increase. We're at 71% increase for armed robberies, which are very, very violent crimes," Moss said.

And Moss says the perpetrators of these kinds of violent crimes are getting younger.

"They are robbing people at gunpoint, they're shooting at each other, they're involved in homicides, they're victims of homicides, they're stealing cars, they're getting into police pursuits," Moss said. "It's really troubling if we're having young people committing all these crimes."

Haney says the deli is taking steps to upgrade its security, such as installing more cameras, changing the locks and getting a security guard to patrol the area.

She said there's also a deeper issue at play that can't be so easily fixed.

"People are becoming benign to it, and it's another day in America and seriously, I feel like crying," she said, holding back tears. "Life is not precious anymore, people don't care."

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