2 Bellingham restaurants robbed at gunpoint, employees forced to the floor

BELLINGHAM -- Detectives are on the hunt for an armed robber targeting restaurants near closing time.

In two separate cases the gunman forced employees to the ground before the thief cleared out the cash register.

Maya Briller cowered on the floor when the gunman forced her and a co-worker to the ground at Man Pies restaurant on Railroad Avenue Sunday night.

“He made us walk slowly," she said Wednesday. "He made us put our hands down and walk naturally to the front of the store, which is hard because you can’t walk naturally when there’s a gun behind you.”

“There was no yelling or anything, he just like walked in pretty nonchalant,” said Josiah Nelson,  who was also robbed at gunpoint several days before Briller’s traumatic experience. “We thought it was a joke at first, actually.”

Nelson was working at Westside Pizza when he was robbed on Friday night, but that time the crook wore a mask.

“He had one of those Groucho Marx masks on,” said Nelson, “With the big mustache, right?”

In both cases the thief entered through the backdoor and told everybody to get onto the ground.

Investigators are looking into whether the two burglaries are related. Both Nelson and Briller remember the thief was acting cool and collected during the holdups.

“He actually told us to call the cops when he left,” Nelson said.

“He was very sober and very sane and methodical,” said Briller, “That’s why we did everything he said because we didn’t want to give him a reason to shoot us.”

Victims said the robber is a white male in his 50s,  between 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-10.

The gunman used a dark-colored mountain bike as a getaway vehicle after one of the robberies.

Briller hopes the gunman gets caught before his temperament changes and someone gets hurt.

“If he keeps doing what he’s doing and robbing places downtown, I’m sure at some point there’s going to be someone that’s going to try to stop him,” she said.