Armed Robbery at Martinsburg Local Bar

- MARTINSBURG, W.Va - A family-owned bar and restaurant in Martinsburg was robbed at gunpoint early Saturday morning. The owner said he thinks it's because of the new smoking ban put into place in Berkeley County.

"Since they put this smoking ban into affect, we cannot control what happens on the inside or outside," owner of Sky Room Lounge, Bret Ruppenthal said. "Because we don't have enough people, we cannot hire enough people because we lost over 60 percent of our business thanks to this smoking ban," Ruppenthal added.

The Berkeley County Sheriff's Department said the armed robbery took place around 2 a.m. Deputies were able to catch the two suspects within 30 minutes of the incident.

Clayton Pruitt, 26, and Thomas Brashear, 31 were arrested by Berkeley County deputies after being pulled over. Deputies discovered a handgun, two walkie talkies, a handwritten military style assault plan and a large amount of money in the suspects vehicle.

Berkeley County put into place a non smoking ban inside bars that went into effect July 1st of this year.

Ruppenthal said he's never been robbed before, and like many other bars in town, he's nervous it will happen again.

"Last night was one of the best nights I've had since they put this smoking thing in affect," he said.

Sandy Hoffman, a frequent customer at Sky Room Lounge said it feels as if there are robberies happening every time you turn around in the area. 

"It scared me," Hoffman said. "When I heard the news this morning it was like 'oh my gosh, we could've actually been here'. I never want to see a gun in my face."

The contractor for the lounge, Rick Light, said he's been coming to this bar for years and agrees with Ruppenthal that the incident happened because of the ban.

"It's jeopardizing the people that's inside, its jeopardizing the customers, its jeopardizing the bar owners, the bartenders of course and its putting everyone in jeopardy," Light said. "You don't know who's going to come through the door and what they're carrying."

Pruitt was arrested for armed robbery and Brashear was arrested for conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Both are awaiting arraignment at the Eastern Regional Jail.

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