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Armed robbery at Lacey's spa
Employees flee into woods as gunman opens fire; nobody hurt but robber makes off with safe

By Seth Burkett

LACEY'S SPRING — A gunman fired at employees and assaulted a woman after kicking in the door at Illusion Spa, Morgan County sheriff's investigators said Thursday.

The Morgan County Sheriff's Department previously withheld details about Saturday's armed robbery, the second to the controversial hot-tub rental business in the last six months.

Chief Deputy Mike Corley said four spa employees and the husband of one of the women were on break on the back porch of the doublewide mobile home at 1138 U.S. 231 at about 11 p.m. when they heard the robber kick the front door.

"They went to check out the noise they heard and were confronted by a lone black male armed with a blue steel automatic handgun," Corley said. "They turned to run and ran back out the building, into the woods."

Corley said the robber physically struck one of the women, but she escaped out the back door with the others.

"As they ran into the woods, he fired two shots. No one was hurt," Corley said.

The husband called 911 from a cell phone.

The robber hauled away a safe containing cash, Corley said.

"We're assuming there were others (involved) because the safe was probably too heavy for one man to move," said Investigator Terry Kelly. "But they saw no cars and they saw no other people."

According to one of the victims, the gunman wore sunglasses and a hoodie with a toboggan underneath, Kelly said.

Corley said evidence from the scene confirmed that two 9-millimeter bullets had been fired.

No arrests have been made.

"We're following some leads and processing evidence that was gathered there," Corley said. "We're thankful no one was hurt."

A call to the spa Thursday yielded no further information. A woman who answered the phone declined to comment on the robbery and hung up on a reporter after he asked to leave a message for the owner.

Illusion Spa has come under fire from some locals who suspect customers do more with the female attendants than simply relax in hot tubs.

An hour in a hot tub with an attendant costs $80, according to the spa's Web site.

The spa has been the subject of prostitution investigations by the Sheriff's Department. Following a raid on the spa in 2004, Huntsville police claimed it was part of a major prostitution ring.

During a robbery May 15, a trio of masked bandits hauled naked customers and attendants from private rooms and stole wallets, purses and cash from the safe, sheriff's investigators said.

The spa burned down in a mysterious fire June 30, but reopened about a month later in the same location.

No arrests have been made in either incident.

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