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Esmeralda Chavez and her 4-year-old daughter, also named Esmeralda, in her jewelry store. The store was robbed by three gunmen Friday afternoon.
Daily file photo by Emily Saunders
Esmeralda Chavez and her 4-year-old daughter, also named Esmeralda, in her jewelry store. The store was robbed by three gunmen Friday afternoon.

3 armed men rob jewelry store

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

Three gunmen robbed a jewelry store in Decatur on Friday afternoon, leaving two women tied up in the store's bathroom with a child.

Owner Esmeralda Chavez, 29, a friend, Hortencia "Mely" MacKinnon, and Chavez's 4-year-old daughter, also named Esmeralda, were inside Esmeralda's Jewelry at 805 Sixth Ave. S.E. at about 2 p.m. when three Hispanic men entered, pretending to shop.

"One was asking me the price of a necklace and weighing it in his hand. I was telling him he could put it on layaway and pay $100 a week, and when I turned around, he said, 'This is a robbery' and they were pulling out guns," Chavez said.

Chavez said the man grabbed her hair, demanded money and began taking off her jewelry.

Meanwhile, one of the other men seized MacKinnon by her hair, Chavez said.

"Mely was trying to protect the little girl and kept Esmeralda close, between her legs," Chavez said.

The robbers forced the women into the bathroom at the back of the store and tied their wrists with black shoelaces.

Chavez said she saw the men pulling out black plastic bags as they began looting the store, cleaning out cases containing about $40,000 in jewelry. They also stole the videocassette recorder connected to the security camera.

They exited through the back door, leaving the women tied up in the bathroom.

Chavez said MacKinnon was able to slip free of her bonds because they had been tied over her sweater sleeves.

Chavez, with her hands still tied, went to the business next door and asked someone there to call police.

The apparent leader of the trio had a wide nose and was slim except for a large belly, Chavez said.

The second man was average height and weight with a medium complexion. He wore a white headband and a hood.

The third wore white, and he had an earring and sideburns trimmed into three strips on each side of his face.

"Now I feel like I don't want to sell any more jewelry," Chavez said as she gestured to the empty cases. "Maybe I can change the name to something else ... Esmeralda's Fashion, or whatever."

Decatur police are investigation. Anyone with information can call their confidential tip line at 341-4636.

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