Crime

Irving restaurant hopes robber who pointed gun at pregnant cashier will be caught

Video shows robbery at Irving restaurant

Irving Police are searching for a suspect that robbed Tortilleria La Nueva Puntada in Irving, TX.
Up Next
Irving Police are searching for a suspect that robbed Tortilleria La Nueva Puntada in Irving, TX.

The pregnant cashier was the only one behind the counter when the man in the hoodie with the handgun came in.

It was about 6:30 Friday night, and Irving’s Tortilleria La Nueva Puntada was in the middle of serving its dinner crowd ahead of its 8 p.m. closing time. Five employees were working, according to husband-and-wife owners Alberto Sarmiento and Claudia Vazquez — two who were in the kitchen, two who were cleaning in the front and the cashier at the counter. There were also two customers in the back, and two close to the front.

The suspect, who was captured by security cameras inside the restaurant, came into the business and clumsily pulled out a handgun with a long-looking barrel. He screamed, “Give me all the cash now!” Vazquez said.

He then walked behind the counter — where he could no longer be seen by the cameras due to a hanging menu — and shouted for the cashier to load cash into a plastic bag used for carryout orders, Vazquez said. She complied, placing stacks of dollar bills into a clear bag.

Although the suspect is out of frame, Vazquez said the cashier told her he pointed the gun directly at her stomach. She’s roughly four months pregnant, Vazquez said, with a noticeable baby bump.

66667231_2261896933940120_5084438471766966272_n.jpg
Irving police released surveillance photos of a man accused of robbing a pregnant cashier at a restaurant Friday. Irving Police Department

“I asked her to take off as many days as she needed, but she decided to come back to work two days later,” Vazquez said over the phone on Wednesday. “She said she felt better being here around people than being alone in her house.”

The suspect — who got away with $1,186, Vazquez said — is at large five days later.

Irving police on Wednesday tweeted a security video of the robbery, noting the suspect has a distinctive mole or other mark of some kind above his right eyebrow. Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact Detective Burkleo at 972-721-3576 or kburkleo@cityofirving.org.

Anonymous tips can also be submitted at ipdcrimetips@cityofirving.org. Additionally, police operate a 24-hour number for tips — 972-273-1010.

Sarmiento and Vazquez own both Tortilleria La Nueva Puntada restaurants — the original in Dallas, and the Irving location — and hope to open a store in north Dallas by August. Vazquez’s grandfather started the business as a tortilla factory in Mexico in 1969.

She and Sarmiento were in Irving on Friday but left for the day before the robbery.

They found out later from employees, and were shocked.

“We got robbed — the first time that that has happened in the 14 years we’ve been here,” Sarmiento said. “We’ve never had an issue like that.”

They have spoken to staff and watched security videos to figure out what happened. The two customers in the front, Vazquez said, quietly slipped out of the restaurant, while the two near the back placed their hands behind their backs, apparently trying to show they weren’t a threat.

It appears from the videos other employees tried to stay out of sight.

Since the incident, Vazquez said she’s seen more police patrol cars near their business. But she still feels nervous, she said.

“I used to feel safe,” she said. “But now, I don’t think I will feel 100 percent safe until they catch this guy. I just hope he doesn’t do this anywhere else.”

The restaurant has shared videos of the robbery and photos of the suspect on its Facebook page in an attempt to help police locate the suspect.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

  Comments