Friday, June 20, 2008

Man brandishing palm frond and flip flops tries to rob store

It's an attempted robbery you might not believe. Surveillance video shows a man using part of a palm tree to hold up a store in DeLand.

Even though he didn't use a traditional weapon, he'll still face the same charges. How a customer responded to the threat was also unusual. He chased him out of the store with a bar stool.

Police said it ranks near the top as one of the oddest things they've ever seen. But the palm frond wasn't the robber's only weapon. He was also brandishing a pair of flip-flops. Gelando Olivieri burst through the door of V and F Discount Beverage threatening the clerk with the sharp end of a palm frond. He waved it like a spear, tapped on the counter and demanded money from Guruda Sarkar who admitted the surprise factor worked.

He just remembers the man wanting money.

"He just kept saying 'give me 50 dollar, give me 50 dollar,'" Sarkar said of the incident. Olivieri, with his shirt pulled up over his head, made the most of his homemade weapon. He started jabbing it toward the clerk, shaking the branch, slapping the man's hand away and demanding he open the register. What he didn't count on, apparently, was a customer inside who grabbed a bar stool from behind the counter and corralled the tree-wielding robber back out the door.

"He ran him out of the store with a bar stool. He was asked if he could identify the guy and he said 'yeah, that's George.' He knew him right away," said Sgt. John Anderson of the DeLand Police Department. George Olivieri, who saw a judge for the first time on the armed robbery charge on Thursday, was caught only a block or two away from the store. The store's owner says he's been robbed with knives and guns, but after watching the robbery back on tape he didn't know what to think.

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