EAU CLAIRE — An Altoona man committed an armed robbery at an Eau Claire convenience store after the clerk wouldn’t let him pump gas without pre-paying for the fuel, police said.
Anthony M. Grabowska, 36, 719 Harriet St., was charged Friday in Eau Claire County Court with a felony count of armed robbery and misdemeanor counts of bail jumping, second-offense operating a motor vehicle while under the influence, possession of cocaine and failure to install an ignition interlock device.
Court Commissioner Nathan Novak set a $5,000 cash bail for Grabowska, which prohibits him from having contact with Mega Holiday stores. Grabowska also must maintain absolute sobriety.
Grabowska returns to court Dec. 1.
According to the criminal complaint:
Eau Claire police were sent to a report of an armed robbery Thursday at Mega Holiday, 2230 Birch St.
The clerk provided a description of the suspect, who officers believed was Grabowska. Eau Claire police have had numerous contact with Grabowska, who frequently sees and hears people threatening to kill and shoot him.
The clerk said that at 9:25 a.m. Grabowska came into the store and asked if he could pump gas before paying. The clerk told him he couldn’t.
Grabowska became upset and argued with the clerk and again asked if she would let him fill his vehicle before paying. Grabowska left the store after the clerk again refused.
The clerk saw Grabowska open the back of his vehicle and grab something she believed to be a similar shape to a handgun. Grabowska concealed the object with a shirt or towel and walked back into the store.
He walked up to the counter with part of his arm concealed by the cloth. Grabowska pointed his hand at the clerk and gestured like he had a gun.
“Give me your money or else,” he said.
The clerk said she was concerned for her safety and gave Grabowska the money from the register. Grabowska also demanded that the clerk allow him to pump gas, which she did.
Grabowska then left in his vehicle after pumping the gas.
On Friday, callers reported a wrong-way driver and a vehicle coming to a stop in the median near the intersection of the North Crossing and Kane Road. The driver left on foot. The vehicle was identified as the one belonging to Grabowska. Officers found him at a nearby store.
Officers found a beer can and cocaine inside the vehicle, which was still running.
Witnesses told police Grabowska was driving toward them in their lane of travel. After swerving, Grabowska’s vehicle stopped in the median. He then fled the scene on foot, witnesses said.
Grabowska smelled of intoxicants, had glassy eyes, slurred speech and difficulty maintaining his balance. He admitted to driving the vehicle. He said some men jumped in his vehicle and made him drive the wrong way. He also believed the men were shooting at him.
A blood draw was performed at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.
Grabowska is being prosecuted as a repeat offender. He was convicted of a felony count of threat to a law enforcement officer in April 2019 in Eau Claire County.
If convicted of the felony charge, Grabowska could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.