Gang of gunmen robbing Winn-Dixie fire at workers, shoppers, police say

A gang of armed men burst into the Milgen Road Winn-Dixie Wednesday night, firing at store workers and shoppers as they robbed the business, Columbus police said.

No one was wounded by the gunfire, though several employees and customers were present, said police Lt. Debra Bohannon.

Investigators believe at least five men were involved in the robbery, though witnesses were able to provide descriptions of only four. They were armed with both handguns and “long guns,” meaning rifles or shotguns.

They raided the 5750 Milgen Road grocery about 10:45 p.m., just as the business was about to close, Bohannon said. They fired at workers and shoppers while in the store and as they fled, taking cash from the business as they sped away in what witnesses described as a four-door silver Toyota Corolla with a sun roof and possibly a small black antenna on the back, its year of manufacture likely around 2005, the lieutenant said.

Witnesses said the robbers were black men. They described one as 20-25 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 160 pounds and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, black pants and black shoes, and another as 20-25 years old, 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing 155 pounds, “kind of chunky,” and wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, black pants and black shoes.

They said a third robber was 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing 145-150 pounds and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and black pants, and a fourth was 5 feet 9 or 10 inches tall, weighing 150-160 pounds and wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and tan shorts.

Detectives now are trying to determine whether Wednesday’s incident has any connection to the April 3 attempted robbery of the 1627 S. Lumpkin Road Winn-Dixie, where two gunmen confronted an assistant manager and worker in the parking lot as they were leaving shortly before midnight.

One robber kept the worker outside while the other took the supervisor inside and tried to make him open the store safe. The assistant manager was too nervous to get it unlocked, police said. The store’s alarm sounded and the robbers fled.

Witnesses described one gunman as black, 20-28 years old, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall, weighing 175-180 pounds and wearing a black shirt and a beige ball cap; the other as black, 20-30 years old, 5 feet 3 inches tall, slim, and wearing a black sweater or sweatshirt, blue jeans, athletic shoes and a light blue or gray ball cap. Both men had silver handguns.