Robber kills NYC jewelry store worker

/ Source: The Associated Press

A jewelry store worker was shot to death in a brazen midday robbery Wednesday in a shop on posh Madison Avenue, police said.

Two people were working at R.S. Durant at about 12:25 p.m. when a man in his 30s wearing a blue overcoat, gray slacks, sunglasses, a black wool hat and a scarf around his face came into the Upper East Side store and said he was robbing the place, police said.

The workers refused to fill two canvas bags the gunman brought, police said. The suspect took out the clip from his semiautomatic pistol and showed it to the employees, saying, "You think I'm kidding? This is real" before putting the clip back in and firing once, said NYPD spokesman Paul J. Browne.

Henry Menahem, 71, was hit once in the chest. The second worker, a 49-year-old man, asked if he could call 911 to help Menahem, but the gunman refused.

The store is only about 12 feet wide and about 20 feet deep and had jewelry cases hanging on the walls. The gunman smashed one of the cases and loaded bags with diamond necklaces and other jewels before fleeing south on Madison Avenue. No customers were in the store, located between 75th and 76th streets, at the time.

Police were still looking for the suspect. The victim was taken to Lenox Hill hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

A call to the Menahem home in Long Branch, N.J., was answered by a friend who said the family was "in total shock."

The neighborhood boasts rows of swanky boutiques and expensive jewelry shops and the incident occurred not far from the Whitney Museum of American Art. The area near the shop was cordoned off with yellow crime scene tape, but traffic was moving along Madison Avenue.

Carmen Fontanez, a private security guard who patrols the stretch of Madison Avenue, said a man was smoking in front of the store when a tall man wearing a ski mask and sunglasses pushed him inside and shut the door behind him.

The shooting happened very quickly, she said.

Other shopkeepers said R.S. Durant is a relatively new store, about a year old. A shell casing from a 9mm semiautomatic pistol was recovered at the scene.

Police have been in contact with the store's owner. It's not clear how much the stolen jewelry was worth.