UTICA — Police arrested a 31-year-old Shelby Township man Dec. 4, following an alleged armed robbery on Messmore Street, east of Kaeding Street, in Utica.
The victim reported to police that the suspect, who was arraigned on charges of armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery Dec. 5 at 41-A District Court in Shelby Township, stole $500 from him at gunpoint at roughly 9 p.m. the prior evening.
The victim told police that the robbery occurred after he met the suspect to buy two guns, an AR-15 and a 40 mm Glock, for $500.
The suspect picked up the victim, drove to Messmore Street, drew a gun and told the victim to “just give me the money and get out.”
“Any time there is a gun involved and someone is willing to go to that level of violence, we direct everything we can to investigate and make an arrest in that issue,” Utica Police Chief David Faber said of the work his officers put in to locate the suspect hours after the robbery.
Utica police located the suspect after the victim was able to describe his appearance.
Officers ascertained the suspect’s identity by matching his description to a known associate who set up the meeting between the suspect and victim.
The meeting was arranged after the victim told the associate that he was interested in purchasing guns. The associate said he had two available guns, but one may have been stolen. The victim said he was not interested in purchasing any illegal guns.
Following that exchange, the victim received text messages from the suspect, who identified himself, using the alias “Davey,” as the associate’s cousin and arranged the meeting.
After police identified the suspect, they located him at Meijer in Fraser, near 15 Mile and Garfield roads, by tracing the cellphone the suspect used to contact the victim.
Police arrested the suspect and a female associate with help from Fraser police, but they did not find a gun in his vehicle. The female said the suspect picked her up at roughly 9:30 p.m., and she knew nothing of his actions prior to that.
During an interview with police, the suspect admitted that he stole $500 from the victim, but stated there was no gun involved in the robbery. He said he used the money to pay a debt he owed and buy cocaine in Detroit.
The suspect said he and his associate conspired to rob the victim because of an outstanding debt the associate owed the suspect.
The suspect said his associate told him the victim was in the market for drugs and guns, so they set up the victim to meet the suspect under the guise of purchasing a gun and some marijuana.
The suspect said he took $500 from the victim and told him to wait outside the car for him to pick up the drugs and gun from a nearby house.
The suspect said he then abandoned the victim before picking up his female associate. The suspect said he did not believe the victim would call police, since he was trying to buy drugs and guns.
“He admitted to everything, with the exception that there was no gun used,” Faber said of the suspect’s interview with police.
A warrant sought against the male associate for conspiracy to commit armed robbery was not granted, but the suspect is being held on $25,000 cash bond.
Faber said that, while the presence of a gun made the case a top priority for his department, property crimes, such as robbery, are nothing out of the norm this time of year.
“The property crimes have been on the increase since the economy (declined),” Faber said. “And obviously, this time of year more so, the stress levels go up and the need for money goes up.”
Faber said that while most purchases don’t involve guns or drugs, anyone looking to save money by purchasing items from private citizens met through associates or websites should take extra caution.
“In this case, obviously, if he’s looking to buy a gun and marijuana, it sends up a red flag,” Faber said. “But this time of year, you get people trying to save some money, so they buy on Craigslist.
“So do these transactions in a public location. You set the location — some place you’re confident and comfortable and somewhere you know.”
“(Police stations are) always a good location, and it happens quite a bit, where people will make plans to meet in our parking lot,” Faber added. “And we don’t mind.”
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