Armed robbery outside hardware store

By Gary Brode |

Published 07/16 2014 08:05PM

Updated 07/17 2014 11:21AM

CHAMPAIGN -- The gun violence continues; this time in broad daylight. An Urbana man was held at gunpoint Wednesday morning about noon in the parking lot of Do-It-Best Hardware.

The victim, Herdie Thomas, is fine, but a little shaken up. There's a Western Union inside the store. Thomas has been paying his bills here for years. He never expected this to happen.

"I didn't think anyone would be robbed during the day," said Thomas.

Thomas planned on paying his bills, but he never made it in.
"Just as I got out the car, a guy came around the corner," Thomas explained. "When I saw the gun he said, 'give me your money.'"

Thomas was frozen with fear.

"My wallet was in this left pocket. He reached in here and grabbed it," said Thomas. "He took out the money, threw the wallet down, and went off running."

Thomas eventually made it into the store to call police and get to safety. As for the money, it was too late. He says more than $300 was taken from him.

"The only thing I was thinking about was, 'is he going to shoot me or not?'" said Thomas. "I didn't care about the money."

There are no cameras outside the store. Thomas believes if there would have been, this would not have happened.

"I think they should have cameras in places where people is paying money," said Thomas, "especially at an establishment like this."

He doesn't need a video to identify the man.

"I'll never forget that face, that's for sure," said Thomas.

At 63, Thomas had never been robbed until Wednesday. Now he wants others to be on the lookout so it doesn't happen to them.

"Look where you're going and look everywhere before you get out of the car," Thomas said.

Thomas was going to pay his power bill. After he explained the situation, Ameren says they will give him an extension. As for when he pays his bills, he's going to use money orders from now on.

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