GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - At least five bar employees were held at gunpoint during a robbery in Grand Rapids early Wednesday morning.
The workers called 911 around 4 a.m. after the incident at Monte's Lounge and said two men carrying pistols forced their way into the business as the staff was cleaning up and leaving. The employees said the suspects were still in the basement at the time of the phone call.
The employees were held against their will for at least 15 minutes as the suspects stole an undisclosed amount of cash, Sgt. Maureen O'Brien told 24 Hour News 8. One of the suspects hit and kicked one of the employees. The injuries were not serious.
"The most amazing thing about what happened was how they used their wisdom and common sense throughout the 15 minutes that they were experiencing that," Monte's owner Paul Reinert said. "They held their composure and they didn't make a mistake by confronting them. They cooperated, which kept everybody safe."
He said as many as seven employees were held at gunpoint.
"The money is insignificant. When you get a call at 4:30 in the morning that your employees were basically held hostage, that becomes your only concern. We're family," Reinert said.
Officers arrived and blocked the area near 438 Bridge St. NW to begin the investigation. Police searched Monte's Lounge but did not find the suspects, who had already fled the scene.
24 Hour News 8 saw officers and K-9 units using flashlights to search the roofs of buildings.
One of the suspects is described as a heavy-set, black male; 6 feet to 6 feet 3 inches tall; and wearing a white "Friday the 13th" mask, camouflage pants and a gray sweatshirt.
The second suspect is described as a heavy-set, white male; 6 feet to 6 feet 3 inches tall; and wearing a blue bandana over his face and a baggy, blue sweatshirt.
The suspects' ages are not known.
Monte's owners, who also own O'Toole's Public House next door to Monte's and Rockwell's/Republic on Division Avenue, met with managers and staff Wednesday. Monte's is closed Wednesday and Thursday.
Owners are reviewing safety and security procedures for all employees.
Reinert says they have security on staff, but no surveillance cameras. However, he says there is a security camera in the alley that belongs to another business and police are looking at it.
Several bars are located in the area of Bridge Street where the incident happened and workers are close.
"This stretch right here with all these bars is so heavily patrolled you would think that would be the last thing that would happen. But I know that they have a little back alley back there and that's a little bit sketchy," Elizabeth Burch, who works at Anchor Bar across the street from Monte's. "Sometimes we do see characters walking around back there and they look like they're looking for trouble. You can see people sometimes that look a little out of place. They're just walking back and fourth and not going into any of the bars. We keep our eyes out for stuff like that."
She said bars warn each other of suspicious people.
You are asked to call police or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345 if you have more information about this incident.
24 Hour News 8's Ken Kolker and Marc Thompson contributed to this report.
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