Sonora police are asking for the public’s help to identify the suspect in a Tuesday morning armed robbery at Walmart.
A surveillance image taken by Walmart security cameras was released Tuesday afternoon showing a man wearing sunglasses, a fake beard and wig who appears to be standing behind an employee.
The suspect is described by Sonora police as being about 6-foot-2 in height, medium build and 200 pounds. He was last seen wearing a gray sweatshirt, green bandana and tan boots. He also was carrying a walking cane.
According to a police report, employees first encountered the suspect about 11 p.m. Monday after he was seen entering a restricted area and asked to leave the store. It was noted that he was wearing the fake beard and wig at the time of the first incident.
Employees spotted the same man “pacing back and forth in front of the store” on the 1200 block of Sanguinetti Road the next morning about 5:30 a.m., the report stated.
The man hid behind a counter near the front of the store after it opened at 6 a.m. and pulled a dark colored snub-nosed revolver on an employee exiting a restricted area, the report stated.
A manager at a nearby store who was familiar with the situation identified the accosted employee as a woman who had been with the company a long time, but Sonora Police Chief Mark Stinson would not confirm the employee’s gender Tuesday evening.
The suspect ordered the employee back into the restricted area where he took cash before fleeing from the store on foot, the report stated.
Stinson also denied early reports that the employee had been pistol-whipped, stating the employee suffered no physical harm during the ordeal.
The exact amount of cash stolen from the store during the robbery was not released.
The suspect was last seen running south behind Starbucks toward Old Wards Ferry Road.
A Starbucks manager told The Union Democrat she was not notified about the armed robbery in the area until about two hours after it occurred.
Stinson explained that only one officer was able to respond to Walmart after the initial call and had to secure the area before expanding the investigation outward upon the arrival of two more officers.
Stinson said there are typically one or two armed robberies each year within city limits, and most don’t involve guns or occur at businesses.
Matthew William Birdsong, 31, was recently convicted in Tuolumne County Superior Court of armed robbery for holding up a Columbia mini-mart with an air pistol on Aug. 12. He was apprehended by a Tuolumne County SWAT Team who surrounded the apartment he fled to after the robbery.
The Sonora Police Department is asking anyone with more information about the suspect in Tuesday morning’s robbery to call 532-8141.