YORKVILLE — An armed robber held a gun to the head of an employees at a First Avenue cellphone store before locking two workers in the shop's bathroom and fleeing with $2,000 in cash, the NYPD said.
The suspects entered the MetroPCS store at 1760 First Ave., near 91st Street, on Thursday and pretended to look for a cellphone, the shop's manager told DNAinfo New York.
When a worker went to show the man a couple of models and turned his back to the suspect, the robber took out a black handgun and placed it to the employee's head, manager Charlene Marte said.
"He took the man to the back and pointed the gun at [a female employee], too, and took them to the bathroom," added Marte, who was not in the store at the time.
Police said the man locked the employees — a 27-year-old woman and a 46-year-old man — in the bathroom at roughly 12:30 p.m.
The suspect briefly left and returned with another man before they both went through the register, Marte said.
They ultimately snatched $2,000 from the store's cash box, according to Marte and police.
Both the suspects then fled the store in an unknown direction. No one was hurt during the robbery and there were no customers in the store at the time, police said.
Surveillance video released by police shows one of the suspects placing a black handgun in his waistband, while a photo of the second suspect show him crouching down behind the counter.
Both were described as about 20 years old, police said.
Marte said that a few days before the robbery took place, she was alone in the store when two men came in to look around.
"They were checking the store and left after one minute," she said. "It looked like they were looking for something. I feel like it was them. We just have to get more secure."
While this is the first time Marte knew of the shop being robbed, other MetroPCS stores citywide have been targeted by criminals.
In 2015, a pair of robbers forced the manager of a Bedford Avenue phone store into the bathroom at gunpoint before stealing $10,000 in cash and merchandise. Police said the same men were behind two other robberies of cellphone stores where employees were forced into a back room.
Police said the Upper East Side incident is not part of a pattern, and the investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS.