Jan Scott will never forget the serrated shark-tooth pattern of a cheap steak knife blade pressed inches away from her eye during an early afternoon robbery late last month.
If you went into a steakhouse with that kind of a knife, you wouldnt eat there, she said. I thought, if he stabs me with that its going to be very messy.
The 53-year-old retired nurse turned sales associate opened up Lotus Blooms, a couple’s boutique at 1017 King St., alone around noon on August 24. About 12:20 p.m., she sent a text to her son, set down her iPhone and came out from behind the counter to help a customer, who claimed to be shopping for his lady friend, Scott said.
The two spoke for roughly eight minutes. He selected some merchandise and set them on the counter. As Scott turned to ring him up, she felt an arm close tightly around her throat and found a cheap steak knife thrust up against her eye.
He said, ‘I don’t want to hurt you. Don’t make any noise,’ Scott recalled.
The man later identified by police as Dale Allen Arrington, 44, of Hyattsville instructed Scott to open the register and place the cash and change rolls on the counter. Leaving $119 in assorted bills and coins by the register, Arrington led Scott to the back of the store and pushed her to the floor of the bathroom, she said.
He demanded she count to 200 before coming out and, though armed only with a knife, threatened to shoot her if she didn’t comply, Scott said. After waiting several minutes, Scott walked out of the bathroom and found the store empty. Her phone and the money gone, she called 911.
I dont know why I didnt panic more than I did, she said. For a split second I thought about fighting, but then I realized he outweighs me by about 200 pounds. I stayed very quiet I tried to stay as calm as possible. From the time his arm went around my neck, I never turned to look at him. I know with a mean dog you dont look him in the eye.
Scott followed the police department’s playbook for robbery victims exactly. Jody Donaldson, department spokesman, said job one is ensuring your safety. The second is being a good witness for police, he said.
We say you need to comply with the demands for your safety, Donaldson said. Property, money, whatever protect yourself and hopefully thats all they want and theyll take it and leave. Safety is the first priority. Just comply with their demands and try to get a good description of the subject so that you can relay it to police and detectives.
Authorities caught up with Arrington not long after, while Scott was still on the phone with dispatch reporting the crime. Police credit the fast grab to a quick-thinking parking enforcement officer in the neighborhood. She trailed Arrington from a safe distance as he fled, feeding updates to pursuing officers by radio, Donaldson said.
Theyre a great resource for our officers, he said. Theyre out there every day doing parking and traffic complaints and they have stationary points they patrol for tickets and a lot of times theyre out on foot, but they have the same radio traffic and this just proved a perfect example of how having that extra set of eyes out there really made a difference.
Arrington now faces two felony counts of robbery and is due in court on September 15.
Scott barely thinks about the stick-up now. She suffered some muscle pain around her neck where Arrington allegedly held her in the crook of his elbow, but the aches have since faded. After police interviewed her, Scott went right back to work, ringing up $200 in sales the same afternoon.
But the robbery has prompted Lotus Blooms’ owners to make some changes. A new sign hangs outside, warning customers and would-be criminals the store no longer handles cash transactions.
Sara Robishaw, a sales associate at the boutique, called the crime ridiculous. The incident hasnt left her worried about go to work or walking the streets of Old Town.
If someone came in here acting like an idiot, Im going to comply, she said and then, with a laugh: I dont have a death wish.
Scott, an Old Town resident, isn’t worried either, though she brought a little extra security to work with her the first couple of days after the robbery: her dogs. She believes the new no-cash policy will deter any more crime.
Hopefully, idiots like that will walk on by, Scott said.