MONROE – Deputies are looking for a teenager who they believe robbed a 9-year-old’s lemonade stand at gunpoint over the weekend.
According to the Union County Sheriff’s Office, the incident occurred around 3 p.m. Aug. 4 at the roundabout near the entrance to St. John’s Forest. Deputies say a black teenager wearing a camouflage hat and black shirt approached the 9-year-old boy and allegedly stuck a black handgun to his stomach. He demanded money and then fled the scene on foot, making off with just $17.
While searching the area for the suspect, deputies located a trail in the woods and found a camouflage hat, black BB handgun and metal tin from lemonade stand. They believe the suspect left a bicycle and walked to the lemonade stand before the robbery.
Union County spokesman Tony Underwood said the incident is the first of its kind in the county and the sheriff’s office is urging parents to keep a close eye on their kids.
“We’ve never known children at lemonade stands were really targets of violent criminals,” Underwood said. “We would certainly encourage parents to closely monitor anything where their children are accepting money, whether that’s for a good cause or charity. Criminals know no boundaries when it comes to committing a crime of opportunity.”
The boy has since reopened his lemonade stand in a new location at the community pool, which Underwood said is a more populated area with higher visibility.
“That will hopefully minimize the opportunity for a criminal to take advantage of if other people are around,” he said.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office posted news about the incident on Facebook to spread awareness. As of Aug. 6, the post had more than 300 comments and was shared more than 700 times.
In addition to the response on social media, Underwood said his office has been inundated with calls, emails and messages from people all over the country who heard about the incident and want to help.
“I think that speaks volumes about the human kindness of people,” he said. “Although we hear a lot about the evil things that people do, there are still a lot of good people in the world out there.”
Deputies have not yet identified the suspect, but are working with neighbors who may have surveillance footage of the incident or the suspect. If anyone has information about this incident that might help, notify the sheriff’s office or Union County Crimestoppers.