Cool heads prevailed in panic situation - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Cool heads prevailed in panic situation

April 8, 2008

Tifton --  A teenaged girl is hailed as a hero in that robbery/hostage situation at Tifton grocery store.   In fact, when a man pulled a gun in the Piggly Wiggly Monday night, several teenaged employees leapt into action.  

One of them called 911, while another herded customers out a back door to safety. The danger ended quickly because a police officer was nearby and shot the robber in the head.  

It happened in less than two minutes. Fourty eight year old Craig Plymel of Moultrie approached several Piggly Wiggly employees at nine o'clock near the front office with his handgun drawn, demanding money. A quick thinking clerk called 911 and police were nearby.

"We happened to have a unit there at the traffic light and one of our Tifton Police Units along with a Tift County Sheriff's deputy responded and they were there within seconds of the telephone call being made," says Tifton Police Chief James Smith.

It was another employee's quick thinking that got 15 store customers safely out a back door.  "One of the cashiers actually went back and took all of the customers in the store which was about 15 customers and carried them to the back room and actually opened the emergency door to let them out the back door," said Piggly Wiggly District Manager  Al Masters.

 The true heroine was 16-year-old Casey Touchton. Police say her ability to stay calm while Plymel held her at gunpoint kept a bad situation from getting worse.  "Her being cool and calm under fire," said Chief Smith. 

It was Officer Dorminey McCrae who saw an opportunity during the confrontation with Plymel and fired one shot at Plymel's head.  "He was holding the gun on the hostage," said Chief Smith.

As customers returned Tuesday they say the incident won't keep them away. It's something employees may not as easily forget, for them, the company is bringing in help. "There were some thing I needed to pick up yesterday that I didn't get and after hearing about it this morning I still needed to get what I needed to get so I got it," says Sharease Hughes.

"A local counselor is going to come down today and meet with all the employees that are here and then meet one on one with the ones that had to deal with the incident to be sure that they're comfortable with dealing with what happened last night," said Masters.

Craig Plymel is in critical condition at The Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon.

Tifton Police Officer Dorminey McCrae will remain on administrative leave with pay while the investigation is completed.

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