Two teens among group arrested for 7 robberies
ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Two adults and two teenagers were arrested in connection with seven armed robberies of convenience stores over the last three weeks in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
Brandon Vicks, 21, is being charged with six counts of armed robbery. He's also facing charges for allegedly shooting a store clerk in St. Petersburg, who survived.
"He caught me off guard," said Steven Ruppert, another clerk who works at the Belcher Food Mart in Largo.
Almost a month later, he's just glad to be alive.
"When things like that happen, your life flashes before your eyes," he said. "You just give him what he wants and hope he goes away."
Clerks in Largo, Clearwater, St. Pete, Pinellas Park and Tampa have similar stories to tell.
Between Sept. 22 and Oct. 13, police said the foursome would burst in, show guns, and demand money and cigarettes.
"Honest store clerks, just trying to make a living, working the night shift," said Assistant Chief Jim Previtera of St. Petersburg police.
Also charged in connection with the robberies are 20-year-old Dwight Neal and two 14-year-olds, one male and one female.
Police believe the female was the lookout in Tuesday's Tampa robbery, and she held the door open while armed with a gun.
"They were just out, driving around with stolen cars, looking for a store to rob and seeing how much money they could get each time," said Previtera.
The departments put two and two together during routine communication over stolen cars and robberies.
Investigators said they realized they could tie Wicks to each robbery, and made the arrests Wednesday morning in Clearwater after identifying all four suspects.
"(It was) some talented cops," Ruppert said.
The clerk has a message for the former quadruple threat:
"(I'll) see you in court," he said.
Police are now trying to figure out how all of the suspects knew each other.
The state attorney's office will decide whether the teenagers will be charged as adults.