Originally created 09/27/00

Restaurant manager foils robbery

A late-night armed robbery attempt at an Augusta restaurant was foiled by a manager who put up a fight.

Thomas Kyle O'Steen, a manager at Logan's Roadhouse on Robert C. Daniel Parkway, was in an office counting money around 11:20 p.m. Sunday when a man entered through the kitchen, put a gun to the back of his head and demanded money, Mr. O'Steen said.

At first, Mr. O'Steen said he intended to hand the money over but began to fear for his and employee Tara Rae Baxter's lives.

"In the process of giving him the money, he got agitated, and I just wasn't sure if he was going to shoot me in the back of the head and take her as a hostage to get out," said Mr. O'Steen who was recovering from injuries he received in the struggle.

"It just got to a point, and he just kind of knelt down beside me to help put money in the bag, and he took the gun away from pointing at me. That's when I grabbed it. I just didn't think he was going to be satisfied with getting the money and not leaving a potential witness, somebody that could identify his voice."

Mr. O'Steen said he recognized the man as a former employee by his voice

During the ensuing struggle, the gun went off, breaking an office window.

The struggle continued out the back door of the restaurant where the robber begged the manager to let him go, Mr. O'Steen said.

"He kept asking me to let him go, that he has a lot of crap in his life," Mr. O'Steen said. "And I just kept looking at him and going, `You put my life in jeopardy. You put Tara's life in jeopardy.'

Eventually, Mr. O'Steen let go of the gun, he said.

"The guy was so much stronger than me," he said. "I was not sure how much more I had left in me."

The robber began running away, but not before firing another shot, Mr. O'Steen said.

"I don't know whether he was firing at me or not," he said.

The assailant fled toward Bobby Jones Expressway where deputies found him lying on the grass on a shoulder of the expressway, a police report stated.

Deputies arrested Tommy L. Gray, 25 of Libby Drive and charged him with criminal attempt armed robbery, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during commission of crime, simple battery and an arrest warrant on a previous misdemeanor charge, said Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228.


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