A downtown jewelry store was robbed by two men this morning who used hammers to smash display cases and strike an employee who chased them out of the store. Police said no suspects were immediately identified.
Police are trying to determine if an explosion at Rimrock Mall about 15 minutes earlier is connected to the robbery.
The robbery at Tony Soueidi Jewelers, 2810 Second Ave. N., happened at 9:40 a.m., 10 minutes after the store opened.
Lt. Joe Bryce said the owner and his son were in the store when the robbers struck. Using large hammers, the two men smashed several display cases and grabbed jewelry before running out of the store seconds later, Bryce said.
The owner's son, who was not identified, chased the two men down an alley and caught them in a parking lot at the corner of North First Avenue and North 29th Street. One of the robbers hit the son in the head, and the two robbers got in a car and drove away, Bryce said. The young man was not seriously injured and refused to be transported to the hospital by ambulance. He was driven by a friend to a hospital, but his condition was not immediately known.
Witnesses said the robbers drove off in a mid 1980s Pontiac Grand Am, dark green or aqua colored with no front license plate. The car had a Yellowstone County license plate on the back, Bryce said. It was undetermined late Tuesday morning how much jewelry was taken.
The robbery followed what Bryce said may have been an attempt to divert police to the Rimrock Mall. At 9:26 a.m., an explosion occurred at the Dillard's department store, 140 S. 24th St. W. No one was injured in the explosion, but a light was damaged. Bryce said police are still trying to determine what type of explosive was used.
A witness said he saw a man running from the store seconds before the blast. The man got into a green-colored car, which then drove away. Bryce said it's possible the explosion was used as a "distraction ploy" by the robbers.
The robbers were described only as black males, Bryce said. They wore bandannas over their faces during the robbery. Police continued speaking to witnesses late Tuesday morning to develop a better description of the men, Bryce said.
Anyone with information can call police at 657-8200.