GRAVESEND, Brooklyn (PIX11) — A 6-year-old child was among the victims of an armed robbery at a cellphone store in Brooklyn.

Nobody was hurt in the gunpoint robbery last Thursday, but the store manager and local residents alike acknowledge that the crime could have been deadly. They also called on investigators to do more to help solve the case.

The NYPD released surveillance video of the crime late Monday evening. The robbery happened Thursday, at 7:55 p.m. — five minutes before closing time for the shop.  In the video, a man wearing a white hoodie pulled around his face enters, with a dark colored bag in front of him, possibly trying to conceal a weapon. 

Everybody inside the store, at the corner of Avenue X and West 1st Street, visibly takes the threat seriously. One of the people inside, clearly visible on video, is a 6-year-old child. At one point, the small child happens to be standing next to the armed man.

The man can be seen forcing the child, and a handful of other customers and staff, at gunpoint into a closet at the back of the store. 

After that, the man stole nearly 100 cellphones from the store, according to police. The sequestered customers were eventually able to emerge from the closet, unharmed, and on Tuesday, the store was back open.

One of the customers on Tuesday watched the surveillance video, and said that she was stunned, watching it for the first time. 

“That’s crazy,” she said, wide eyed. “And there’s a boy,” she continued, watching the video. “That’s really upsetting. That’s outrageous.”

The store manager, named Michael, who declined being interviewed on camera, said that he was going to try and keep the front door to the store locked more frequently. However the door, which appears to be the only way in our out of the shop, was propped wide open for most of Tuesday afternoon, just as it had been when the robbery began.

Reaction from neighbors was very vocal and emotional. There was an elementary school graduation across the street from the T-Mobile shop on Tuesday, and a variety of parents and children spoke about the fact that an elementary school-age child was one of the victims.

“It’s a little kid, come on,” said Dea, a fifth grader, whose mother allowed her to comment as long as her last name wasn’t disclosed. “If someone was hostile to the [gunman],” Dea said, “he could shoot.”
“Just knowing that somebody would threaten a six year-old in a store,” she continued, “that’s just scary, and sick.” 

Violet Stern owns the sunglasses store next to the cellphone shop.

“It’s a nightmare,” she said, adding that she views the armed robbery as part of a larger, disturbing trend.
“I feel there’s so much crime going on with guns,” she said. “There’s no stopping them. When is it going to end?”

The crime is part of an increase of 214% in robberies in the community, compared to the same month-long period a year ago, according to the NYPD 61st Precinct, which covers the Gravesend neighborhood. 

One resident, Yousra Moussa, said that the latest crime took her by surprise. 

“It’s just like terrifying, honestly,” she said.  “Just to know something like that might happen next to your house, that’s not a good feeling.”

The cellphone shop manager said that he suspects there was an accomplice to the robbery positioned somewhere outside of the store. 

It’s not clear whether or not other nearby businesses’ surveillance cameras would have captured activity by an accomplice.  However, owners of some nearby businesses whose cameras record the street and sidewalk said that they had not been contacted by investigators.

One merchant did point out that the NYPD has its own surveillance camera mounted high on a light pole at the next corner east of the cellphone shop. 

Submit tips to police by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visiting crimestoppers.nypdonline.org, downloading the NYPD Crime Stoppers mobile app, or texting 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. Spanish-speaking callers are asked to dial 1-888-57-PISTA (74782).