The man seemed nervous, maybe on drugs. He was white, in his 20s, with dreadlocks and a mustache. His left ear was pierced with a cross earring.
He lingered for a few minutes inside the ColorWheel Gallery, a combination hair salon and gallery in south Minneapolis where local artists sell their wares and neighbors often gather for folk music. Eileen Espinosa, 65, was working behind the counter on her regular once-a-week shift, managing the shop owned by her daughter, Tammy Ortegon.
The man approached and flashed a small pistol.
Open the register, he told Espinosa.
“No,” she said.
Espinosa, a grandmother, was working on pure instinct. She felt calm, and she sensed the young man was new to this.
“I felt like he’s somebody who made a mistake in his life and that he just decided to do this,” Espinosa told me a few days later. “He was very edgy. It’s a busy corner, and I …