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Robbery victim's son witnesses crime on birthday

Julia Gonzalez planned to celebrate her son's seventh birthday Wednesday with dinner and church. But a man posing as a customer at the Rock Hill insurance office where she works delayed those plans when he robbed her as her son sat nearby.

"He didn't see anything," Gonzalez said about her son, Nicolas, who was less than 10 feet away. But, "he knew something happened. He said, 'Why did that man do that to you?'"

Neither Gonzalez nor Nicolas were injured during the incident, said Lt. Larry Vaughan of the Rock Hill Police Department.

Authorities have not made an arrest in the robbery, which happened at Starling Insurance Co. at 1169 Ebenezer Ave. Ext., Suite C.

Around 4:30 p.m., a man came in the office.

"He said, 'I need a quote,'" said Gonzalez, of Rock Hill, about the man, who sat in a chair opposite her with a hand stuffed in his jeans pocket.

Gonzalez took information from the man for an insurance quote for his 1984 Dodge truck, according to a police report.

Midway through a second quote search, things changed.

"He said, 'I need a favor,'" Gonzalez recalled. "When he said that, I knew he was going to rob me."

She stopped typing and looked at the man, who said, "I need some money."

"I said, 'Please, don't do that,'" she recalled.

"He said, "I don't want to hurt your son,'" an emotional Gonzalez recounted.

Gonzalez turned in her chair and opened a drawer, and the man said, "Don't do nothing stupid."

The report notes Gonzalez gave the man about $150. He also had Gonzalez unplug an office telephone and took her cell phone before leaving the office, she said.

Authorities did not recover a weapon, Vaughan said.

After the robbery, Gonzalez took Nicolas to dinner. But now, Nicholas fears for his mother's safety.

"I don't want you to go back there," Gonzalez said Nicholas told her.

Gonzalez said she has her own concerns.

"I just don't want to be here by myself," said Gonzalez, who plans to return to work next week. "Anyone can come in here and do it again."

The robbery has triggered manager Elizabeth Voss to make multiple bank deposits instead of keeping cash at the business and to step up security measures such as installing security cameras.

"That may deter someone from thinking they can come in here and rob us with no retribution," Voss said.

Authorities used a York County Sheriff's Office dog to track the man, who was described as a black man about 6 feet tall and 150 pounds with a short goatee and mustache, the report notes. He wore a white T-shirt with writing on the front and blue jeans, according to the report.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call the Rock Hill Police Department at 329-7200 or CrimeStoppers of York County at 1-877-409-4321.

Toya Graham • 329-4062

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