Man suspected of stealing shoes pulls gun on employee at Battlefield Mall

Police said the incident happened at Battlefield Mall just before closing time Saturday night.

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Springfield police are on the search for a man who they say pulled a gun on a JC Penney store employee after that employee confronted him about attempting to walk out of the store with two pairs of stolen tennis shoes.

According to Springfield police, officers responded to J.C. Penney in the Battlefield Mall just before 10 p.m. Saturday.  Police said the employee grabbed the robber by his arm.  That is when the thief pulled out a handgun and held it to the employee's head.  The suspect ran away after that, and the employee was not injured.

Police are relying on information from people who saw it happen as well as surveillance video.

"Every type of store has its own policies, so we can't really tell a store what they should have their employees doing," said Springfield Police spokesperson Lisa Cox.

"We feel like he did the right thing by backing away, because he could've been killed or injured," Cox said.

People who regularly shop at Battlefield Mall in Springfield said the incident is a shock to them.  Expectant mother of one, Amanda Stauffer, was at the mall over the weekend and again Monday and is taking extra precautions.

"I carry him (one-year-old son) in a baby carrier a lot, so I think instead of using a stroller, we're gonna use a baby carrier more often, because if we ever had to get out of somewhere quick just put him in his carrier," Stauffer said.

Police described the man as being in his late 20s to early 30s with a skinny build and measuring rougly 5 feet, 8 inches tall. The man had shaggy hair that was visible under a hat.

Police would not share any security images of the suspect with the media.  Anyone with any information on the incident is asked to call Springfield police.