Clerk recognizes gun-wielding robber as fired employee

- The clerk at a Shell station off Fruitville in Sarasota County didn't see the bandana on a customer's face.  She most definitely didn't see the long-barrel gun in his hand.

"Hey, how are you," she can be seen on the surveillance footage, casually asking the man.

She was bent down, stocking a shelf and had no idea she was about to be robbed.  It wasn't until he walked by and flashed the gun at her that she realized what was going on.

As he emptied out the cash register, he gave orders.

"Lay down, you won't get hurt," he said.

Deputies said it was a voice she began to recognize.  When he left, she called 911 -- and her boss.

Before the owner of the Shell station could arrive to pull surveillance footage for deputies, he already had someone in mind who would want to target his business.  Investigators say his hunch turned out to be right.

"When my employee was telling me over the phone, I figured it out right away," Sam Shehadeah said.

Based on the robber's movements and his recognizable voice, Sam and his employee agreed it had to be Joshua Ruiz --  a former employee whom Sam fired for stealing just four days earlier.

Several other people identified Ruiz from the surveillance footage and the pellet gun he carried with him.  Deputies caught him just hours after the robbery and arrested him.

Captain John Walsh of the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office said it was in part thanks to the observant nature of the Shell owner and employee.

"We always appreciate people who observe, pay attention, and then are able to articulate that well enough so we can use that in our investigation to locate that person," he said.

Now Ruiz is stuck behind bars, charged with armed robbery.  He's being held on a $100,000 bond.

"He belongs there. That is what I have to say," added Shehadeah.  "He belongs there."

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