Owner shows pistol -- end of story
CARLISLE, PENNSYLVANIA -- When a would-be robber walked into Erin Moul's used-book store and demanded that she open the cash register, she told him, "no."
When the man persisted on Tuesday, she showed him why she wasn't going to open it -- the 9mm pistol she pulled from her purse.
Yesterday, Moul, owner of Cover to Cover Books in the 100 block of North Hanover Street, still had all her cash.
The man accused of trying to rob her, Charles W. Hinton Jr., 35, of Carlisle, was in Cumberland County Prison on charges of robbery, simple assault and criminal attempt. He was being held in lieu of $50,000 bail.
"He came in about 10 minutes before 6," Moul, 34, of Shiremanstown, said as she recounted the foiled robbery attempt. "He walks in and says, 'Do you sell any comic books?'"
She said she told him she did not but the man kept "meandering" around the store. That gave her the feeling something was up, she said.
"I didn't think he was going to rob me," Moul said. "I thought he was going to knock over a display."
Finally, she said, the man came around the back of the counter -- as she backed away toward her purse -- and he said, "I need you to open the cash register."
"I was like, 'I don't think so!'" Moul recalled.
She said that when the man repeated his demand, she replied: "No. And I have a really good reason not to open my register. You want to see why?'
"So I pulled out my 9mm and I said, 'Here's why.'"
"I held it up and showed it to him," Moul said, demonstrating by pointing the weapon -- which she said was loaded at the time of the attempted robbery -- at the ceiling. "Then I said, 'Why don't you try robbing somebody who doesn't have a gun?'
"That just freaked him out," said Moul, who has a permit to carry her pistol. "He apologized. He said, 'I'm sorry. Some of my friends put me up to this.'"
When the man left the store, Moul said, she immediately called Carlisle police. Officers were at her door while she was still on the phone with the dispatcher. Within 40 minutes, they had a suspect -- Hinton -- for her to identify, she said.
"I was absolutely stunned at how fast they moved," Moul said.
Police said Hinton was arraigned before District Justice Harold Bender and sent to the prison. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12.
Cumberland County Court records show Hinton has served jail time in the county on convictions for drug, assault and terroristic-threat offenses.
Lt. Barry Walters of the Carlisle force said he could not remember a case like Moul's in his 22 years with the borough police.
Moul, who said she would have fired if the man had come any closer to her, admitted to a mix of emotions about the incident.
"It was the funniest thing," she said of the look on the would-be robber's face when she pulled her pistol. "It was terrible, but it was kind of humorous."
Matt Miller may be reached at 249-2006
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