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Masked gunmen rob Subway restaurants in Twin Cities

Three masked gunmen robbed Subway restaurants Thursday morning in Minneapolis and neighboring St. Anthony, and authorities are trying to determine whether those suspects are also responsible for a similar crime early this week at a Minnetonka restaurant.

There have been no arrests in any of the crimes. No detailed descriptions of the masked suspects have been released.

The first of Thursday’s two stickups occurred in Minneapolis shortly after 7 a.m. at the Subway at 2400 E. Hennepin Avenue, where the suspects put the employees in the cooler and fled with cash, according to police spokesman John Elder.

The workers exited the cooler about 5 minutes later and called police, Elder said.

The pistol-toting trio then struck about 8:30 a.m. at a Subway about two miles to the north in the St. Anthony Shopping Center at 2900 NE Pentagon Drive, said St. Anthony Police Chief John Ohl.

Ohl said the men forced open the safe and cash drawer, then left with the loot. No one was hurt, he added.

"Our crime lab is down there and working with the Minneapolis crime lab," Ohl said late Thursday morning. "Anytime there is a robbery and weapons are displayed, we get a little nervous."

On Monday, nearly the same scenario unfolded at the Lone Spur Grill and Bar on Cedar Lake Road in Minnetonka, down the street from Hopkins High School and North Junior High School.

Elder said his department’s investigators "are meeting the (Minnetonka) detectives to see if there are similarities and if they are indeed the same people."

The Lone Spur robbery occurred when gunmen slipped in through an open back door Monday, about an hour before the restaurant was scheduled to open. The men took employees’ wallets and cellphones and were roughed up a bit, police said.

Another Subway in Minneapolis was held up about 7 a.m. on March 13 by three suspects, according to a neighborhood crime alert. At least two of the robbers were armed with handguns, when they robbed the Subway on 50th Street near Chowen Avenue S., the alert said. The three ranged in age from late teens to late 20s.

"The suspects pushed their way in when the manager went to the door," the alert read, "demanded him to open both the cash register and safe, getting away with approximately $2,100."

Police have yet to say whether this crime is being looked at in connection with any of the others.