Armed jewelry store owner chases smash-and-grab robbers out of business

GASTONIA, N.C. — The owner of Morris Jewelers in Gastonia chased out armed robbers with a gun Wednesday.

What would have been a smash-and-grab robbery left $7,000 of damage, but nothing was stolen. No injuries were reported.

Channel 9 obtained security footage from the moments armed robbers broke into Morris Jewelers.

WATCH the security footage from Morris Jewelers:

Three suspects walked into the store wearing masks and hoodies, holding bags and weapons.

They immediately went toward the jewelry, smashing the displays nearest to the door.

Before they were able to grab anything, the owner of the store, Michael Hennes, pulled out a gun and pointed it at them, causing the suspects to run out of the store.

The robbery happened just before 4 p.m. at the store at 1301 East Franklin Boulevard.

“I just reacted,” Hennes told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon.

Hennes was working in his office and noticed the men walking toward the front door.

“Men with masks on, hoodies, hammers in hand,” Hennes said.

Hennes said he knew what was going to happen next, so he grabbed his firearm and made his way to the front door.

“It was very frightening, but it happened so fast,” Hennes said. “It was just instinct. There was no planning. It just happened.”

Morris Jewelers has served the community for 85 years and has been in his family for three generations.

“It’s everything to me,” Hennes said.

There were three employees and one customer in the store, which was a strong motivation too, he said.

“Jewelry can be replaced,” Hennes said. “The store can be repaired. Lives cannot.”

The robbers shattered two cases but got no jewelry.

Hennes followed the men as they ran to a van outside.

He told Lemon that he was hoping to get anything that could help police catch them.

“I hope it makes (thieves) think twice and think that it’s not going to be so easy,” Hennes said.

Hennes spent Thursday morning cleaning up and working to replace the damaged display cases.

The owner said he would add extra security.

“Nobody will ever be able to walk in again without being buzzed in,” Hennes said.

Hennes never fired his gun.

Gastonia police officers said they have heard about similar robberies in Huntersville and Concord.

They have reached out to law enforcement there, but Gastonia police said it’s too early to say of the cases are connected.

The suspects have not been arrested yet.

This is a developing story; check wsoctv.com for updates

(WATCH: Several break into Birkdale Village jewelry store that was recently robbed)

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