BALTIMORE — Investigators have arrested a man who allegedly pointed a handgun at the 83-year-old owner of a Port Deposit-area convenience store during a May robbery in which he and his accomplice also maced the elderly proprietor three times and punched him, police reported.
The Maryland State Apprehension Team captured the alleged gunman, Thedral Thomas Williams III, 26, at his residence in the 500 block of Dolphin Street in Baltimore on Wednesday, some five weeks after Cecil County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested the other suspect — John Brian Sherman Collins Jr., 28, of Perryville, according to Lt. Michael Holmes, a Cecil County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
Williams is facing 17 charges, including armed robbery, first-degree assault and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony or a crime of violence, Holmes reported. Collins, who remains in the county jail after his May 30 arrest, is facing the same 17 charges, according to Cecil County Circuit Court records.
Information regarding Williams’ custody status was unavailable, as of late Friday morning.
Williams’ arrest on Wednesday occurred one day after CCSO detectives captured the fourth — and remaining — suspect in an unrelated convenience store armed robbery that took place just a few miles away in the Port Deposit area during that same week in May, Holmes noted. In that crime, one of the suspects fired a shotgun blast through the store ceiling.
“Our detectives did some really great work to develop the suspects (in the two robbery cases) and make these arrests,” Holmes told the Cecil Whig. “They closed out two violent robbery cases that are unrelated, but occurred in the same general area during the same week.”
CCSO detectives had developed Williams as a suspect early in their investigation, but then they had to follow leads to track him down, Holmes explained.
Williams and Collins are accused of robbing the Craigtown Market in the 700 block of Craigtown Road at approximately 5:45 a.m. May 29, when the duo — dressed in black, their heads and faces covered with black nylon stockings — entered the store while the 83-year-old owner was in the process of opening for the business day, police reported.
Store surveillance cameras videotaped the holdup and the vehicle used by the bandits, police said. That footage helped CCSO detectives expediently identify Collins as one of the suspects, police added.
The owner was behind the checkout counter when Williams and Collins entered the store and approached him, according to charging documents.
Collins, who was holding several white cable ties in his hand, pepper-sprayed the owner while Williams walked to the back door, opened it and checked to see if anyone was behind the store, police said. Then Collins walked behind the checkout counter and maced the owner again, police added.
“The victim attempted to run to the rear exit, but was stopped by (Williams), who raises an arm and points what appears to be a gun at the victim. The victim immediately turns around and is confronted by (Collins). (Collins) strikes the victim in the right kidney region, before the victim opens the register draw,” the charging document outlines.
Collins took approximately $745 from the the cash drawer and, once again, pepper-sprayed the owner while Williams continued to brandish what appeared to be a handgun, police said. The suspects fled out the rear door and ran into the woods directly behind the market moments later, after noticing a vehicle pulling into the store’s front parking lot, police added.
During the on-scene investigation, a witness reported seeing a suspicious vehicle parked in a driveway parallel to the store at the time of the armed robbery, according to court records, which indicate that the person described the vehicle as a white service truck with a ladder rack and an unknown apparatus sticking out the roofline.
Surveillance video shows a truck matching that description driving past the market on Perrylawn Drive (Route 275) at about 5:15 a.m., roughly 30 minutes before the armed robbery, police reported. It then shows that same truck making a U-turn on Perrylawn Drive and then turning onto Craigtown Road, according to police.
Craigtown Market is at the corner of Craigtown Road and Perrylawn Drive.
Also helping investigators, CCSO detectives learned that Perryville Police Department officers had handled a complaint from an employee at the nearby Pilot Travel Center at about 1:45 a.m. May 29, some four hours before the Craigtown Market armed robbery, court records show.
“The clerk advised that a subject known to her as John Collins Jr. entered the store with an unknown black male. Collins asked the clerk if they sold pepper spray,” according to the charging document.
After learning that the store did not sell mace, Collins reportedly bought a pack of cable ties, before he and his companion left in a vehicle that the store clerk described as a “Chevrolet regular cab utility body truck with a blue ladder rack and some type of machine sticking out above the roof,” court documents show.
CCSO Det. Michael O’Donnell, lead investigator, conducted computer checks and found Collins’ Perryville address in the database, police reported.
“Detective O’Donnell learned that John Collins Jr. frequently operates a service truck, which matches the previous descriptions provided of the suspect vehicle. Furthermore, it was noted that John Collins Jr. is currently in possession of the service truck,” according to court records.