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'I wasn't trying to be a hero, but I usually do get the final say'

ROGUE RIVER — Kirt Hultquist's need to get in the last word put him in the line of fire Saturday night when he followed two armed robbers out the door of Woodville Video to tell them police were on the way.

Hultquist, the store's manager, was in the store with a clerk and a single customer when a pair of masked gunmen stormed through the door and demanded cash from the register and everyone's wallets.

The robbers fled after snatching the register drawer from the terrified clerk and bolted out the door toward a getaway car parked in an alley behind the store.

Hultquist, 49, followed the suspects, intending to spot the car's license plate number.

"I wasn't trying to be a hero, but I usually do get the final say in things," Hultquist said with a laugh during a phone interview Thursday afternoon.

As the suspects sprinted to the car, Hultquist yelled out that police had been called, prompting one of the robbers to point the gun in his direction and squeeze off two rounds that sailed over his head.

"I saw the two flashes, but (the bullets) must have went high, because I didn't hear anything hit the building behind me," Hultquist said.

It was the second time that night he had the same gun leveled on him. While inside the store, one of the suspects pointed the gun directly at his face and demanded his wallet.

The bandits sped off, but not before dropping the bulk of their loot in the alley. The till contained $127 — all but $7 of it was recovered the next day, Hultquist said.

"It was dark that night, but when the sun came out the next morning we had people walking in the area finding the money and bringing it into the store to us," he said.

Rogue River police Chief Ken Lewis said officers have chased a number of leads since the robbery, though nothing has panned out. While the robbers may have been inept, they still face stiff prison sentences.

"We are looking at attempted murder, robbery, menacing and unlawful use of a firearm," Lewis said. "These are serious crimes."

Officers who responded to the scene shortly after the shooting were concerning that the bullets may have struck a home in a neighborhood near the store. No one has reported damage to a building or injuries caused by the stray bullets, Lewis said.

Rogue River officers only have two fuzzy surveillance pictures to work with in trying to identity the suspects. Hultquist said several other cameras in the store could provide multiple angles of the robbers.

The problem lies in getting to the video tapes, which are stuck in the machines until the store's owner returns today from vacation.

"He had the remote, so we could get the tapes out," Hultquist said. "But we should have plenty of good footage (today)."

The suspects were described as two white men in their late teens or early 20s. Both wore thick black gloves, beanie caps and bandannas to cover their faces. One was wearing a black sweater and black pants. The other was clad in a white T-shirt with a black sweatshirt underneath.

Because the alley was dark there was not a clear description of the car available. It was described only as a four-door sedan.

In addition, police are seeking the getaway driver.

The potentially violent situation left Hultquist and the clerk shaken, but they have returned to work confident the robbery was an aberration.

"We have not had anything like that happen in over 20 years," Hultquist said. "But if it does happen again, my boss told me to stay inside the store.

"He said a lousy $120 isn't worth my life."

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call Rogue River police dispatch at 776-7206.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.