On Thursday, an 18-year-old man stopped midway through an armed robbery claiming it was a joke, but the authorities are taking it seriously.
Deputies in Georgia’s Cherokee County are now investigating a bizarre case that started as an armed robbery but ended with the alleged mugger breaking out in laughter and walking out. Surveillance video at Smoke Stars Vape Shop in Canton, Georgia shows a hooded, masked man pointing a gun at the store’s clerk demanding certain products. Suddenly, with no warning, the hooded figure buckled over in laughter, and removed his mask to say he was just joking.
The vape shop’s employee can be heard saying, “Yo, dude. That’s not funny.”
“Oh my God, bro. Oh my God, I got you,” the man said as he placed his gun in his backpack saying it was “just a freaking air soft gun, bro.” The man offered a half-hearted apology to the employee, told him the prank was for a YouTube channel, and walked out of the shop without taking a single item.
Police aren’t laughing at the supposed joke, however, as all signals point to the robbery being very real.
Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department investigators posted the images from the surveillance video, and with help from school and public police the man was identified as 18-year-old Brandon McMahon. McMahon was taken into custody at Woodstock High School on Friday afternoon.
Regarding McMahon’s claims the whole episode was simply a gaff for a YouTube channel the police say it isn’t very likely.
“There’s no other person there with him, no one was videotaping him, he does not have a YouTube channel as he states,” Captain Jay Baker said. Baker does warn that if, in fact, it had been a joke, it would have been quite the dangerous one. “Something like that happens, not only could the clerk shoot you, a bystander might try to protect the clerk, it’s very dangerous.”
Detectives say that, during a search of McMahon’s home, they found a .357 magnum that they believe was used in the crime, not an “air soft gun.”
This example isn’t just conjecture either. Last year in Nashville, Tennessee, a 20-year-old was fatally shot when he and a group of friends approached a family wielding large knives. The 20-year-old was shot in self defense, and later, one of his friends revealed to authorities that the ‘prank’ was for a YouTube video.
Georgia police continue to insist that this wasn’t ever a joke to begin with, but a heist-gone-wrong. “This was an actual armed robbery that he changed his mind about during the act and tried to downplay it and leave the scene,” said Captain Baker.
Adam Cantrell, a Smoke Stars Vape Shop employee who wasn’t there on Thursday night, says the footage is harrowing. “Pretty scary, come out with a gun drawn you’re sitting here just trying to sell vapes, pretty scary,” he said. Cantrell, understandably, is concerned for his co-worker who had to undergo the traumatic episode. “They seem like they’re holding up OK, but I really hope they’re doing good,” said Cantrell.
McMahon is charged with criminal attempt to commit armed robbery.
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