A 40-year-old Palestine man was arrested Thursday afternoon for the armed robbery of the Pit Stop mini-mart Thursday morning. Robert Thompson also was charged with aggravated assault for setting fire to a customer in the store.
Palestine Police arrested Thompson shortly before 5 p.m. He was transported to Anderson County Jail and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and aggravated robbery.
His bond was set at $4 million – $2 million for each charge.
Thompson was caught on security cameras robbing Pit Stop clerk Linda Camire at gunpoint. During the robbery, customer Della Witt-Denizeri entered the store. Thompson secured both women with duct tape and sat them down behind the register.
After emptying the register, Thompson can be seen on video spraying Camire and Witt-Denizeri with what is believed to be lighter fluid.
Palestine Police Chief Andy Harvey said the fluid did not light as Thompson expected. Nevertheless, flames ignited on Witt-Denizeri, who suffered burns to her head, face, and neck.
Witt-Denizeri was transported to Palestine Regional Medical Center, and later transferred to Parkland Memorial Hospital's burn center.
Sandy Witt, Witt-Denizeri's aunt, told the Herald-Press she had visited her niece at Parkland Hospital.
“Her hair is burned off in the front,” she said. “It looks like the hair actually melted in the back. Her hands are black, as if they were covered in soot. The doctors are keeping an eye to make sure she didn't inhale any of the flames.”
Parkland Hospital refused to comment on Witt-Denizeri's condition.
Camire was unharmed.
“I'm proud,” Harvey said, “of how our detectives and officers worked with local agencies to apprehend a violent individual from our community.”
All suspects are to be considered innocent until proven guilty.