WATERLOO — The man who squirted Keithlyn Petitt in the eyes with pepper spray had a familiar voice.
Petitt, a supervisor at Kay Jewelers in Cedar Falls, had just looked up from behind the counter about an hour before closing time Jan. 22, 2018, when she noticed the man, wearing a ski mask, unusually close to a co-worker, his arm bent as if he was holding a weapon.
“I realized this isn’t a customer, this is a robber,” she said.
As Petitt shifted to activate the store alarm, the masked man shouted “no buttons” and sprayed Petitt in the face.
He ordered her to the ground, where, eyes stinging from the spray, she focused on the assailant’s voice as he had the other employee open display cases that held luxury watches and bridal sets.
Police allege the robber was armed with a knife, and Petitt said she was worried he would stab her co-worker, who was six months pregnant, and hurt the baby.
On Monday, Petitt identified Carlos Alejandro Roig Gonzalez in court as the robber.
Roig, 34, of Cedar Falls, is charged with first-degree robbery in the holdup, and testimony in his trial resumed Monday in Black Hawk County District Court.
Petitt said, although she couldn’t see the attacker’s face, his voice, stature and height matched a man she assisted at the store a few days earlier.
“He isn’t a very tall man,” Pettit said. “In all the years I’ve been at Kay Jewelers, I don’t think I’ve ever helped hardly anyone that was short like that … As I’m lying there on the floor, I realized that has to be him.”
At that time, the man — then without a mask — had asked about engagement rings, something under $1,000. They talked for about 20 minutes. He picked out a $600 ring, they worked out a payment plan, and she held the item until he could come with the $60 down payment.
In court Monday, jurors saw Petitt’s handwritten note to hold the ring with the customer’s name: Roig.
Capt. Mike Hayes with the Cedar Falls Police Department said Roig’s roommate had a silver Saturn that resembled a vehicle spotted on the external security camera at the nearby Target store, down to the broken taillight lens, on the night of the robbery.
Officers searched his Tremont Street home, and investigators found jewelry that matched items from Kay Jewelers, according to court records.
Trial continues today.