Area casino heist reveals little details a month later

GREENSBURG, LA (WAFB) - It happened in an instant in the early morning hours of January 29.

"911, where's your emergency?" "Yes ma'am, this is Jon at Whispering Pines Casino. We just got robbed."

Chief Deputy Joe Chaney of the St. Helena Parish Sheriff's Office describes the calculated steps of an armed bandit he says knew exactly what he was doing.

"He came in with what appears to be a gun and forced them into the back and the cage and safe and demanded that they empty the safe," said Chaney.

Emptying the safe and taking what Chaney tells 9News was up to $160,000 and then gone, just as quickly as he appeared.

"After getting the money out of the safe he then escorted them back to the front and he ran out the front door," added Chaney.

Shortly after the robbery a frightened call for help by one of the rattled employees went through to police.

"Did you see what vehicle they got in?"

"No ma'am, I can't see anything out there. I'm not out; I'm not going out there."

The owners of the casino are remaining tight lipped about the investigation and chose not to speak to WAFB on camera. Chaney was asked whether the robbery was an inside job but declined to provide specifics.

"I just take the investigation one day at a time and work it until we get to proper cause to do what we have to do. That's what we are going to do continue to work it. We will not speculate on anybody being a suspect at this time," said Chaney.

A few hundred yards away from Whispering Pines Casino sits the driveway of Debbie Allen and her family.

"It is scary because of the seclusion," said Allen.

Debbie has been in her home for over 35 years like she was the morning of the robbery, which is on property located almost directly behind the casino.

"I don't know if they left on foot or car or not but if they left on foot where are they going to go? In the woods and we're right behind the casino in the woods by ourselves," said Allen.

Debbie says neither she nor other family members who live on the property were ever told by the sheriff's department that an armed robbery had taken place nearby. In fact, Allen says she found out from a family friend days later.

"I would not like to have woke up one morning and walked out to somebody or my back, no I think it's very frightening that people were not alarmed, not notified," said Allen.

That account differs from Chaney's, who admits while no press release or statement on the incident has been released to date, affected residents were informed.

"You're saying the public you know they may have not gotten it through the news media but the public was aware of what was going on," said Chaney.

Chaney adds the investigation into the robbery is ongoing, officers are still pursuing leads and his department will release details when he believes it is appropriate. That does nothing to comfort Debbie, who says she and her family's safety was put at risk.

"I could have been on alert, let me lock everything. Let me make sure to listen more closely to bumps and creeks in the night you know," said Allen.

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