A gunman burst into the business on Minneapolis' Hennepin Avenue in the middle of Friday afternoon, throwing a woman to the floor and making threats.
Steven Spafford, right, assistant manager of Sudz salon, was among two assaulted during an armed robbery at the Uptown spa/salon, leaving bruises on his shoulder where he was grabbed by the robber. A gunman fled the salon Friday afternoon after robbing the cash register and holding a gun on a customer and fleeing with her jewelry as well. With Spafford is Sudz manager Krysta Schrader, left.
Krysta Schrader was in the salon's basement Friday afternoon when a loud thud followed by muffled yelling, then dead silence, stopped her cold.
Schrader immediately called 911.
"I've worked here for a really long time," said Schrader, manager of Sudz Salon at 2400 Hennepin Av. S. in Minneapolis. "I get used to the sound of the building and I knew this was not a normal sound."
Upstairs, a masked robber armed with a .22-caliber handgun had already thrown a female customer to the ground and ordered everyone else to hit the floor while he headed for the cash register.
In a business with large windows facing one of Minneapolis' busiest thoroughfares, the 4:30 p.m. robbery at Sudz was undoubtedly brazen. It was also a terrifying 75 seconds for the estimated dozen employees and customers, including a woman forced to rip a diamond wedding ring worth tens of thousands of dollars from her finger and hand it over to the thief.
"My whole staff was shaken, just completely shaken. It's surreal," Schrader said. "It just doesn't seem like something like that would happen here. We're not a bad neighborhood, and this was broad daylight. I was shocked."
The suspect remains on the loose. Witnesses at Sudz that day say the man wore a hooded jacket with the distinct letters "H K" on the back. The jacket matches that of a man caught on surveillance video during two robberies of Subway restaurants in Maple Grove on Feb. 5 and in the 3500 block of Cedar Avenue S. in Minneapolis Feb. 8. That man also carried a gun. Minneapolis police Sgt. William Palmer said Saturday that he didn't know if the robberies were connected.
Schrader said the man, who also was wearing a ski mask, had thrown the 57-year-old client to the ground by the back of her head before charging to the counter, gun drawn while screaming for the assistant manager to open the safe.
"There is no safe!" Schrader said Steven Spafford replied before he opened the cash drawer, triggering a silent alarm as the robber pulled $285 from the till and threw the cash register drawer to the floor.
In the meantime, a client and three employees ran out the back door and Nick Burlow, the landlord who heard the commotion from upstairs, also called 911.
The robber had nearly cleared the door when he stopped at the woman he had knocked down. He demanded she show her hands, and ordered she remove the rings from her fingers.
"She had gotten a couple on one hand off, and she was struggling to get the other off," Schrader said. "He said 'Get it off or I'll shoot it off.'"
The woman pulled the ring off and the robber was out the door, according to police, who arrived minutes later.
Schrader said no one was seriously hurt, although the customer robbed of her jewelry was distraught. She declined to comment Saturday. Security cameras are now being installed -- hopefully as a deterrent, Schrader said.
"I'm just afraid that this is the beginning of this," she said. "I just think that people are really desperate. That somebody would take the chance for $285. A crime like armed robbery for $285? That's really scary to me. The desperation, I feel, is in the air."
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921