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81-year-old Muncie barber fights back against knife-wielding robber

Thomas Carey has been cutting hair in Muncie's Industry neighborhood for more than 57 years.

MUNCIE, Ind. — On the corner of Willard and Hackley streets in Muncie’s Industry neighborhood, you can always find out what’s going on when you step inside Carey’s Superior Barbershop. 

“We talk about everything. This is where you hear your politics. This is where you hear who to elect,” said owner Thomas Carey. “I got professors, doctors, lawyers. Everybody comes to the barbershop."

Carey has been cutting hair since he was 20 years old.   

“See, I’m 81 years old. Everybody is worried about me retiring, but as long as I feel it, God take my leg or my arm or something, go, it’s God telling me, ‘It’s time for you to walk away,’” said Carey. 

That time, though, hasn’t come yet. In April, Carey will mark 57 years in business at this very spot. 

“They kind of say I’m the mayor of Industry 'cause I been here so long,” Carey said, chuckling. “I know everybody, one way or the other that comes and goes.” 

But Carey didn’t recognize the man he said came into the shop last Tuesday, asking to use the bathroom. 

“When he come in here, that’s all I could see was his eyes,” Carey recalled.

It was cold outside, and the man’s face and head were covered. 

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When the man came out of the bathroom, Carey spotted something else. 

“When he walks out, he pulls a knife. He never spoke to me or said anything. I just stepped back and said, ‘Nah,’ He grabbed my drawer where I keep my money, grabbed it, snatched it over and I keep my money box in there, snatched it up and headed for the door,” Carey said, pointing to a drawer.

“I felt down to grab my pistol. I grabbed that pistol twice. I dropped it both times,” he said. 

Then, the fight began. 

“I just went and grabbed him on impulse," said Carey. "Like I say, he still had the knife. I just grabbed him from behind and then we tussled."

Carey said things spilled outside onto the concrete before the man got free, took off across the street and disappeared, still holding the cigar box with the money. 

Police are investigating, and Carey said word has gotten around the neighborhood about what happened. He believes the person who robbed him is younger, possibly a teenager.

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“He’s probably about 17,” said Carey.

He may even be a long-time customer, according to Carey. If he were sitting in the barbershop right now, Carey said he would have one question for him. 

“I would ask him, ‘Why you decided to rob me?’” he said.

Especially since Carey is known to be generous with people in the neighborhood when asked for help. 

“People know they can come in here and get something from him,” said Carey’s daughter, Kathy. "Dad’s not a selfish man."

“I don’t care how much money I lose, it always comes back to me,” Carey explained. 

But this time, it wasn’t Carey giving, but someone taking. Still, that’s not stopping him from doing what he loves, in a place where Carey knows he is loved, despite what happened. 

“God will tell me when to stop,” Carey said. 

“He is still highly loved in this community,” said his daughter. 

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