POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- Local authorities are investigating an armed robbery Tuesday night at a local fast-food restaurant, where the alleged suspects took employees hostage and forced the manager to empty the safe and cash registers.
At about 10:30 p.m., officers with the Poplar Bluff Police Department were dispatched to Taco Bell Express in the 100 block of South Westwood Boulevard in reference to a robbery, according to Lt. David Sutton.
The suspects, believed to be two men wearing dark, hooded sweatshirts and bandannas over the faces, "entered the lobby, locked the door and exhibited handguns," Sutton said.
"They took all the employees hostage, pushed three of them into the walk-in cooler and forced the manager, at gunpoint, to open the safe and empty the cash registers," said Sutton. There were no customers inside at that time.
The manager was then pushed into the walk-in cooler before the suspects left the building through the back door, Sutton said.
It is unknown, he said, whether the suspects fled the area on foot or in a vehicle.
"A short time after they left, someone called one of the employees' cellphones, and the employee told them to call the police," said Sutton, who estimated about 15 minutes had elapsed before authorities were notified.
The employees, Sutton said, subsequently contacted officers at the southeast door. "When they were sure the police were there, they came out," he said.
It is believed the suspects were inside only a short period of time, Sutton said.
"We're reviewing the store video, and we collected physical evidence at the scene," Sutton said.
Officers, Sutton said, also are going to check with surrounding businesses for any video footage, which might help identify the suspects.
Anyone with information about the alleged robbery is asked to call the police department at 573-785-5776.
100 S. Westwood Blvd., Poplar Bluff, MO