HUNTERSVILLE – After an Aug. 6 armed robbery at a pizza joint, residents still feel Huntersville remains a safe town.
Police arrested James Richard Haney Jr., 29, on Aug. 7 on charges of armed robbery with a dangerous weapon at Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint at 10109 Northcross Center Court. Police said he entered the store with a handgun, stole cash and property and struck the manager in the face.
Haney worked as a shift-leader at the restaurant and allegedly conspired with two others, Cameron Lee Nash, 27, and Tommy Vanh Bountham, 23, to commit the robbery.
Haney was also charged with second-degree kidnapping, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
Police obtained warrants on Nash and Bountham on charges of armed robbery with a dangerous weapon, second-degree kidnapping, conspiracy to commit armed robbery and felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
Alberto Garcia, operations director at Uncle Maddio’s Pizza, said ownership requested he not discuss matters concerning the armed robbery with the media.
But Garcia said Uncle Maddio’s makes the safety of their employees and customers a priority. Property managers are working to prevent crimes from happening.
“We are going to take the necessary precautions more so (for) the safety of our employees,” he said. “We are in the process of doing a security system.”
Considering the pizza joint celebrated its grand opening in July, Garcia said the armed robbery was something he never expected to happen.
“We are very shocked because this is something that doesn’t happen in Huntersville,” he said.
Huntersville resident Laurie Kelly and Hamptons HOA president Todd Kunz said the incident, which happened outside the neighborhood, does not pose a long-term safety problem.
“I think these things happen. I don’t feel unsafe at all. They don’t happen on a regular basis,” Kelly said. “(The restaurant) could have an extra person there to just be in charge of maybe checking doors or locking the door. That might be helpful.”
Kunz believes armed robberies are less of an issue than people breaking and entering and stealing property from homes.
Mayor Jill Swain said residents should not be overly concerned when an armed robbery occurs, such as the one at Uncle Maddio’s Pizza, especially with a police department that handles those kinds of situations appropriately.
“This unfortunately happens in a town our size. This is not a statement on our town’s safety,” Swain said. “What is a statement is how quickly our officers were on the scene. Our HPD gives residents and business owners tips on how to be safer. I think everyone should take advantage of that resource.”
Garcia said the restaurant is thriving and will have a lot more to offer down the road. He said on some nights, the line of customers waiting to order pizza extends outside the door.
“There has been a few customers who have to sit at Panera Bread,” Garcia said. “We have been blessed. We are doing very well.”
Armed robbery stems from Facebook
The Huntersville Police Department is investigating a July 28 armed robbery at the 11500 block of Beatties Ford Road. The victim told police he met the suspect through Facebook to buy a pair of shoes. The suspect, accompanied by two others, pulled out a handgun, robbed the victim and fled the scene, according to police.