Girl Scouts sell cookies outside Niota store during robbery

(source: Niota Police Department)

NIOTA (WATE) – A group of Girl Scouts in McMinn County narrowly avoided a run-in with an armed robbery suspect Wednesday night in Niota.

Police say the suspect walked up to the WilcoHess truck stop around 6:40 p.m. A group of Girl Scouts selling cookies outside asked if he wanted to buy any, but he ignored them and went inside.

“It could’ve been anywhere, but it is scary, but they had parents here, so they were not by themselves,” Kathleen Clontz of Athens said.

The suspect then demanded money from the clerk and threatened to have a gun. He didn’t pull it out until the manager approached him.

“Luckily, on his way out he did not attempt to take any of the Girl Scout money. Luckily, he at least had a little bit of a heart for that as well,” Officer John Amos of the Niota Police Department said.

Amos said the robbery seemed to be spontaneous.

“This appears to make it very random and not well planned out,” Amos said.

Police aren’t sure why the man robbed the convenience store, but they say part of it could be because it’s right off the interstate making it an easy getaway. While nobody was hurt, parents said they’ve talked with their children about what happened.

“You just do the best you can and try to keep the girls safe,” Clontz said.

The suspect got away with around $160 in a white Kia Optima with tinted windows and Alabama tags. He’s described as a while man standing 6’1 to 6’3″ wearing a blue hoodie, black pants, black and white tennis shoes and a hat.

He was last seen going southbound on I-75.

Anyone with information should call the Niota Police Department at 423-568-2826 or McMinn County Dispatch at 423-745-5613

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