Police: Man robs coffee shop, forces barista into refrigerator

VANCOUVER, Wash. - Police said a masked man armed with a handgun robbed a Vancouver coffee shop Sunday morning.

The suspect forced the female barista into the refrigerator, according to police. She was not hurt.

It happened at Torque Coffee, at 501 Columbia Street, at around 8 a.m.

The barista was preparing to open the coffee shop when police said the suspect, wearing a mask from the movie "Scream", pulled out a handgun and demanded money. Then he forced her into the walk-in refrigerator.

"Our roll-up door was open this morning," said Torque co-owner Ryan Palmer. "(The suspect) came in there, put his mask down over his face, demanded the money out of the till. She complied. (He) stole her purse, promptly told her to get in the back and then left. I mean, very quick. Very unsettling."

The suspect also took property from the business. It's unclear what was taken.

The refrigerator wasn't hooked up yet, Palmer said.

"By the time the barista had gotten herself out of that refrigerator, the robber had already taken off."

Her name has not been released.

Police described the suspect as a white man who is about 6'1'' tall with an average build. He was wearing a black hooded jacket, blue jeans and a mask. Police said he may have facial hair and may wear glasses.

Police and Clark County sheriff's deputies detained two people who matched the suspect's description, but released them when the employee confirmed they were not the suspect.

"The barista called 911," said Palmer. "The police were here within minutes. They searched the nearby neighborhood. They found two people who looked similar to the robber, but they weren't him."

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call Vancouver police at 360-487-7399.

KATU's Bob Heye contributed to this story.