The gun ended up not being real, but the bigger surprise was that he had his girlfriend and her children with him.
Caught on video at Bernie's Market at 17 Mile and Garfield in Clinton Township, the suspect placed energy drinks on the counter and asked for a pack of cigarettes.
When the clerk returned, he pulled his jacket up and exposed the grip of a handgun. He then ordered the clerk to empty the cash register and put the cash, the drinks and the cigarettes in a bag. The clerk complied.
"He had a gun and showed it to her," said Emile Salam, who owns the market.
The clerk ran next door to Papa Romano's to call police.
The suspect was busy, police say it was one of four locations he held up Wednesday. He also held up the New Ping's Chinese restaurant on Garfield near Moravian, a 7-Eleven, and the GameStop on Hall Road near Schoenherr in Utica.
At other heists witnesses saw the suspect with a woman who they believe is his girlfriend and two young girls who they say were dragged along for the spree.
"It's unbelievable, you're going to do something like that, you bring your wife, your kids with you," said Eddie Mansour, the owner of the nearby Papa Romano's.
Shawna Wheaton was working the counter at 7-Eleven when he showed her the gun too. He took cash.
She found out later from police the gun the suspect was showing was actually an Airsoft which is a toy, not a real firearm. Police still consider it armed robbery.
"I did hear from a customer here that was his neighbor that the girlfriend did have two kids, maybe 10 and 6," she said. "He did see Child Protective Services come and get them."
Witnesses saw the woman arrested. The suspect will be arraigned, soon charged with multiple armed robberies.