Troy Brazelton, owner of the Play N Trade in Woodstock, was released from the hospital Oct. 10 after receiving second- and third-degree burns when his store was set on fire during an armed robbery Sept. 29.
The store’s staff is selling baked goods to help pay for Brazelton’s medical bills and other expenses, and they will have cookies, brownies, muffins, cornbread and other baked goods in the store today and Sunday.
Tanner Smallwood, a shift manager at Play N Trade, said the store has already raised a good bit of money to help rebuild the store and take care of the owner’s medical expenses, but he hopes to raise even more at the bake sale this weekend.
“Anyone who can come in and donate money or baked goods, we’ll take it,” Smallwood said Friday. “People have actually just brought up and given us (posters and games) so we can start getting our inventory back up.”
Smallwood said Brazelton was “more of a father figure” than a boss to him, and the owner treats his business “more like a family.”
“Personally, he’s been there and done stuff for me, more than some of my family has, so he’s one of the more important people in my life,” Smallwood said. “I’ve worked here for almost four years.”
Brazelton will need more medical treatment, physical therapy and help to rebuild the store, Smallwood said.
“Troy is better, he’s out of the hospital now, coming up to the store every now and then and telling us what to do … he’s his usual self,” Smallwood said. “He might have to have a cast for his arm for 11 months or so, too. It’s pretty serious.”
The store at 2990 Eagle Drive in Woodstock is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Smallwood said all of the bake sale proceeds will go to help the family and store rebuild after the incident.
Smallwood said the store was damaged, but they’re still operating. The store just regained the ability to take both card and cash payments, he said.
“The store is gutted, there’s is nothing in here as far as (old) inventory goes and what we actually have on sale. It’s just whenever we get a new shipment, the shipments are still coming and we still have to sell these games,” Smallwood said. “We might not have any used games or used inventory like we used to, but we’re still set up with a system and we’ve got games for sale so people can still come up and get their new releases and their pre-ordered games.”
Smallwood said he was on his way to the store to start his shift when he heard that there had been a robbery.
“I was actually on my way up here,” Smallwood said. “I was coming up to work on my skateboard and I see like, six cops with assault rifles.”
Smallwood said he didn’t realize how bad the incident was at first.
“I originally just got a phone call from one of the other employees that the store was robbed,” Smallwood said. “My first impression was, ‘Today’s going to be a weird day at work. We got robbed, I’m going to be on edge all day.’ And then once I got up over the hill and saw 20-plus cop cars and fire trucks, and the store literally blackened from smoke and ash, it was a surprise, that’s for sure.”
Authorities have offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for the event and police spokeswoman Brittany Duncan said authorities hope the reward “prompts someone with knowledge to come forward.”
The first suspect is a white man, believed to be 40 to 50 years old, with a medium to large build and a full beard. The second suspect is a white man, about 16 to 22 years old, with a medium build and brown hair, and the third suspect is only described as a white man.
The three suspects are believed to be local and may still be in the area, investigators said.
Anyone with information about the suspects is asked to call the Georgia Arson HOTLINE at 1 (800) 282-5804, or Crime Stoppers at (404) 577-TIPS. Callers can remain anonymous, Duncan said.
Based on statements made to police by store employees, a man entered the store on Sept. 29 with a gun and held the employees in the back of the store, just before it was scheduled to open at noon. According to reports, cash and merchandise were taken from the business.
According to reports, employees were released and told to run away from the store shortly before a fire started in the business.
The store owner was transported to an area hospital with second- and third-degree burns and underwent surgery related to his injuries, according to Facebook posts made by his daughter, Elizabeth Brazelton, after the incident.