PUEBLO – They were just leaving from work Saturday evening, a few steps away from their cars when a man with a gun changed everything.
“There’s a male that’s kind of hiding in between the cars, he approaches them, tries to rob them,” explains Sergeant Franklyn Ortega, Public Information Officer for the Pueblo Police Department. “One runs to get help and he shoots the other female.”
That victim was 44-year old Diem Tong. She was shot once in her torso and survived. She was taken to the hospital with what are described as serious bodily injuries.
An employee at the Metro PCS store heard Tong screaming and ran to help. She tied a cloth around the wound to try and stop the bleeding. Investigators say the robber, who was wearing a mask, got away from the crime scene after hopping into in a white pick up truck that was waiting nearby. It’s a late model Chevy or GMC with an extended cab.
“It just makes you wonder what’s going to happen now,” said Linn Swope.
She manages Urban Hairstylists. Her salon has been located here since the year 2000. Swope said crime has been getting worse. For one thing, the shoplifters are more brazen and aggressive. About a year, they were victims of an overnight break-in.
“They put a rock through the side over here,” she said pointing to the windows of her salon. “They broke into my safe took all the money that I had in there.”
They also filled trash bags full of hair care products during the heist. Shaken by the event, Linn shortened her hours and makes sure that her employees never walk to their cars alone.
“We call the police when the transients are around and they usually come out as fast as they can, which is a good thing, but sometimes they have a lot of reports and stuff that they’re doing.”
At other businesses, we heard similar stories. Off camera, employees told us they’re always on guard for shoplifters. Those with public restrooms will keep them locked out of a fear that a transient will attempt to use them to shoot up with heroin.
One of Swope’s hairdressers showed us the business card of a police officer who responded last week when she called to report a suspicious man walking around with a gun.
Swope said she just wants to run her business in peace and hopes that whoever is responsible for Saturday’s shooting gets caught.
“I don’t want my ladies to have any problems,” she said. “I want them to come in, we enjoy ourselves, we have coffee, we do all kinds of things to make people beautiful.”
Sergeant Ortega said that investigators who are working the robbery case are interested in speaking with the person who was driving a gold-colored sedan in the shopping center. Their vehicle can be seen on surveillance video following the suspect’s pick up truck out of the shopping center parking lot.
Anonymous tips can be made by calling Pueblo Crime Stoppers at 719-542-STOP (7867.)