(NECN: Jack Thurston, Vergennes, VT) - "I'm never going to see her no more!" a woman cried to her family gathered on the steps of the police station in Vergennes, Vermont Wednesday morning. She clutched relatives for support and wiped away tears.
That woman was the mother of 34-year-old Yemalla Sprauve of Vergennes. Sprauve, who loved ones said was a mother of four, died under very unusual circumstances. Investigators say Sprauve died during her armed robbery attempt of a convenience store shortly after 4 A.M. Wednesday morning.
"It's shocking to all of us," said Pauline Kirkland, Sprauve's aunt, explaining her belief that a violent crime would be very out-of-character for her niece.
Police say Sprauve covered her face and walked into her neighborhood Champlain Farms store carrying a large knife and demanding cash. Police say the clerk wrestled the weapon away, suffering minor injuries. He also forced the woman to the ground.
"From all indications, he was trying to defend himself," Vergennes Police Chief George Merkel said.
After another customer entered the store and called 911, rescuers found Sprauve unresponsive. She died en route to the hospital. Police Chief George Merkel would not speculate if the alleged robber had a medical condition or if she was injured in the take-down.
"That's under investigation," Merkel said.
The workers inside the store declined comment, saying only that the clerk was understandably very shaken up. The employees were burning a DVD of surveillance video of the incident, but Merkel said that footage would not be released to the media, because this is still an active investigation.
"We want to see the video and what was going on," Kirkland said.
Until they see it, Sprauve's family will keep wondering if there was anything that could have been done to save their loved one.
"The family," Kirkland pledged, "will be seeking justice."