GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Two hooded suspects wearing masks entered a Gulfport McDonald's, brandished a gun, and demanded money Sunday night.
No one was hurt, but it was a horrifying experience for those caught in the middle.
"Those employees remained calm, did as they were instructed. We can replace items, we can replace money. We cannot replace these individuals if something were to happen," said Sgt. Joshua Bromen with the Gulfport Police Department.
Bromen understands that staying calm may be easier said than done, but it could be the difference between life and death. He encourages employers to convey that message.
"A lot of these employees take a personal, a vested interest in 'This is my employer, this is my product, and I need to protect it.' Where as a business owner, institution you can say, 'Guys, look, your life is more important, cooperate, remain calm,'" said Bromen.
L&M Package Store in Gulfport isn't far from the McDonald's that was robbed. Owner Michael Mensi says that although they take precautions, a robbery isn't really something businesses can prepare for.
"We don't really have any big formal training on it. So you know, you try to just take precaution and that's pretty much it," said Mensi.
The veteran business owner has some advice of his own for remaining vigilant.
"The main thing is try to acknowledge somebody when they come in the door. So they know you know they're there, that you've seen them you acknowledge them," said Mensi.
If anyone senses something suspicious, Sgt. Bromen says help is only one call away.
"Call us. We'll come stand by, and it also helps build a relationship where the officer knows hey, this store closes at this time. Why is there a car there," said Bromen.
In the event a business is robbed, Bromen says the first thing to do is lock the door once the suspect leaves the building and call 9-1-1.