Originally created 02/22/99

Armed robbers take woman's gambling winnings



AIKEN -- An armed trio walked into the home of an Aiken woman who had won $700 in video poker and told her to "give it up," escaping with the woman's earnings, police said Sunday.

Annie Harrison, a self-described video poker addict who plays five hours a day from a stool at Y-Z Kwik Shop on Hampton Avenue, told police two men wearing ski masks and a masked woman walked into her unlocked home in the 300 block of Greenville Street at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, put a gun to her head and ordered her to "give it up, give it up, give it up."

Figuring they were talking about the money she had won on the dollar machine Friday night, she handed them her purse rather than risk her grandchildren's safety, she said.

Ms. Harrison, 51, and five others in the home were unharmed.

"Somebody saw I won, or someone knew I had been there and won," Ms. Harrison said Sunday.

Playing the slot machines is a full-time job for Ms. Harrison, who said she once won $25,000 in a single night.

"I like to play," she said.

Kwik Shop cashier Mary Amiker was working Friday night when Ms. Harrison won big. She described the winner as "excited." She said the store was crowded while people played the store's five machines.

"It was a lot of people in here. A lot of people stand around the poker machines," the cashier said.

During the robbery, the masked woman stood in the doorway, and a man with a knife went to the kitchen and ordered visitor James Callahan into the living room with the others.

Ms. Harrison said the trio fled with her purse when her 15-year-old grandson recognized one of them and called the suspect's name. No arrests were made by Sunday night, police said.

The Aiken Department of Public Safety used bloodhounds to track the scent, but it stopped at a location where police think a getaway car was parked. Police were also investigating a possible connection between a robbery Friday night in Aiken County by two men and a woman.

The first suspect was described as a black male, age 20-25, 6 feet tall and weighing 150 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. The second suspect was a black male, age 20-25, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds. The third suspect was a black female, 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 150 pounds.

Greg Rickabaugh covers crime for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or scbureau@augustachronicle.com.