PORT ST. LUCIE — As a hostage held Friday during a terrifying armed robbery of a Port St. Lucie Radio Shack, Gary Colosimo held one thought close: if the gunmen open fire, he hoped to be struck above the neck.
"I kept thinking, if they are going to go crazy and shoot because they've been here too long and they're getting frustrated, I'm thinking ‘please shoot me in the head instead of the body so I don't have to be in pain,' " said Colosimo, 59, of Fort Pierce. "That's the first thing I was thinking of, you know. How am I going to go?
"And I was praying to God," he added. "It's the longest time I've ever encountered being on the floor, and people just kept filing in."
Police said about a half a dozen customers and store employees were held hostage in a storage room in the back of the electronics store after two armed men took control of the Radio Shack in the 10900 block of U.S. 1.
No one was injured as the gunmen waited for about 30 minutes for a store supervisor at lunch to return with keys to a locked cabinet.
Colosimo, a car detailer from Fort Pierce, entered the Radio Shack by mistake, he said. He'd been hired to detail the car of an employee at Metro PCS, a couple of doors down in the same plaza.
"I just happened to go to the wrong store," he said Saturday. "I was a victim of circumstances; I haven't slept right since."
The former security guard said he felt something was wrong as soon as he entered the store.
"I walked in but I felt this gloominess. Only about 15 seconds went by and there wasn't a soul around and all of a sudden all I seen was this six-foot black dude popping up with a white sheet on his face from his eyes down to his neck with a gun to my forehead," Colosimo recalled. "And (he) said ‘I'm not playing, go in the back.' I really didn't realize it was for real until about five seconds into the gun being at my head — that this was for real, you know?"
According to police, the incident began about 12:30 p.m., when the gunmen entered with semi-automatic hand guns and T-shirts pulled over their faces. A female employee told detectives she was ordered to a stock room to open a cabinet filled with pricey merchandise. When she told the suspects she didn't have a key, the gunman ordered her to call her manager back to the store and open it.
Colosimo said when initially confronted, he was ushered to the back where customers and employees already were being held on the floor at gunpoint. Phones belonging to hostages were collected into a box, he said, but were left behind when the robbers escaped.
Colosimo said he did as he was instructed during the ordeal.
"I was in a zone, alls I had on my mind was a mask, a gun in my face and I had a tunnel vision of just going into this room and I had to squeeze in between these two people and just lay on the ground," he recalled. "A minute felt like 10 minutes, every minute. I was on the floor at least 40 minutes and they (the gunmen) were just determined to have the girl who was out to lunch come back with the keys."
Police said the gunmen's plan was to avoid attention by ordering customers into a backroom while they waited for the manager to return. When a man entered the store and his wife remained in the parking lot, the gunmen ordered him to call her cellphone and ask her to come in, according to police reports. Once inside, she was told to join the other hostages on the floor.
Colosimo said workers kept jumping up to answer the phones and kept dialing the manager until she returned.
"They got the keys and got in, but I kept my face down; I didn't want to look in their eyes," Colosimo said. "The longer you look in their face, they may think twice, and you don't know what's behind the brain of a gun in someone's hand."
He was positioned near the cabinet that contained iPhones, galaxy phones and cameras the gunmen loaded into garbage bags and a pillowcase.
"I was only two feet away as they were loading stuff up," he said. "They were bumping into me and stepping over me."
He recalled the gunmen being nice and polite. One talked about suffering through hard economic times.
"The guy was talking about he lost his house and his dog and he started barking," Colosimo recalled. "But I didn't look at him, I didn't want to get into a conversation or nothing. But he kept talking.
"One lady on the floor was crying and she was saying that her grandchild was in the hospital having surgery and she was supposed to be there and he was sympathizing with her," Colosimo continued. "He said ‘please don't say no more, I don't want to hear no more about that, I feel bad.' He was acting like he was the bad guy going good. But nobody is going to put a gun to your head that's not already done it."
When the armed men finally fled, Colosimo got angry.
"I was the first one up from the floor and out because I was mad. I didn't even wait 30 seconds and I went out there — they'd said don't come out or someone was getting shot," he said. "But I was the first one to hop
over them all so I could run outside and see what kind of a car it was, or something."
The suspects had vanished.
The gunmen still are being sought by authorities and police on Friday released a two-minute video from the surveillance cameras at the store. The film shows one of the gunmen crouched at the rear of the store, waiting for customers to wander to the main desk before confronting them. They fled in a black Nissan crossover or sports-utility vehicle.
Colosimo meanwhile, said he's still processing what happened, but he's already feeling different. And he doesn't like it.
"I am really going to keep my guard up from now on. When I went to Walmart last night, I got out of my truck and I'm looking in the front and side and back before I come out; it's crazy," he said. "It's not a peaceful happy-go-lucky situation anymore."