PORT DEPOSIT — Investigators have arrested the alleged gunman in a foiled armed robbery at a Port Deposit-area convenience store — where one of the two suspects who had gone into the business fired a shotgun blast through the ceiling as the cashier struggled to gain control of the weapon, police reported.
That employee, who was not injured during the incident, is credited with thwarting the robbery attempt, which occurred at about 12:15 a.m. May 29 at the Landhope Farms store in the 1200 block of Jacob Tome Highway, police said.
The two holdup men — who had partially concealed their faces with handkerchiefs or bandanas — fled from the store and got into a silver Ford Taurus, which sped away, after the cashier had wrested the shotgun from the gunman, police added.
Cecil County Sheriff’s Office detectives took custody of the alleged gunman — Donald Lee Burton, 29, of Perryville — on Tuesday in Martinsburg, W.Va., where authorities there had detained him in an unrelated matter and then contacted investigators here after learning that Burton was wanted on an open arrest warrant in the Port Deposit-area armed robbery case, reported CCSO Lt. Michael Holmes, an agency spokesman.
Burton, whom CCSO detectives drove back to Cecil County after he waived extradition, is facing 11 charges charges, including armed robbery, first-degree assault, reckless endangerment and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony or violent crime, according to Cecil County grand jury indictments filed against him and his three alleged accomplices late last week.
As of Wednesday, Burton remained in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond, court records show.
Court records list CCSO Det. Tyler Price, lead investigator, as the officer who arrested Burton along with his three co-defendants — Austin James Kozlowski, 21, of Havre de Grace; Halie Elizabeth Bridges, 23, of Street; and Nicholaus Joseph Roth, 25, of Essex.
Holmes identified Kozlowski as the suspect who entered the store with Burton, who allegedly openly carried a shotgun into the business. According to court records and store surveillance video, Burton allegedly pointed the shotgun at the cashier, striking the employee’s neck with the barrel.
On Monday, during Kozlowski’s bail review hearing, Interim State’s Attorney James Dellmyer alleged that Kozlowski is the suspect who pulled the trigger as Burton and the cashier struggled over the shotgun. The chief prosecutor reported that, based on store surveillance video, Kozlowski reached in during that struggle and pulled the trigger while the gun barrel was inches from the side of the cashier’s head.
Dellmyer recommended that Kozlowski continued to be held without bond. (Kozlowski and his court-appointed assistant public defender, Mike Fiol, were at the county jail during Monday’s bail review hearing and they appeared on a closed-circuit television in the courtroom.)
Arguing for a bond reduction, Fiol told Cecil County Circuit Court Judge William W. Davis that Kozlowski is a member of the Level Volunteer Fire Co. in Harford County; that he attends a church in that county “every Sunday” and that he has a good support system, which includes his grandmother and other relatives, some of whom are law enforcement officers and firefighters.
Davis opted to keep Kozlowski in jail without bond, however, explaining that he considered Kozlowski to be a danger. Kozlowski also is facing 11 criminal charges, including armed robbery and first-degree assault, court records show.
Kozlowski and Bridges were captured at their respective residences on June 13, according to Holmes.
Bridges, who also is facing 11 criminal charges, is free on an unsecured $10,000 bond, court records show.
Holmes identified Bridges as one of the armed robbery planners and told the Cecil Whig that she remained in the getaway vehicle with Roth during the holdup.
Tyler was able to link Roth to the Ford Taurus that a store surveillance camera had videotaped outside the store, police reported.
“As the two suspects (Burton and Kozlowski) are exiting the store, the vehicle leaves the parking space and backs up toward one of the cameras to the rear of the store. The camera is able to clearly obtain the (license plate number),” charging documents outline.
Price ran that tag number through a Motor Vehicle Administration database, which showed that the 2015 Ford Taurus is registered to Roth, police said. On May 30, CCSO investigators, assisted by Baltimore County Police Department officers, executed a court-approved search warrant at Roth’s residence, where they arrested him, police added.
During a police interview after he had been taken into custody, Roth admitted to taking part in the attempted armed robbery, court records show.
“Roth confessed to having knowledge that the occupants of the vehicle were intending on committing an armed robbery at the Landhope Farms store. Roth confessed to having knowledge that one of the occupants was in possession of a shotgun and that his occupant intended on using the shotgun during the robbery. Roth stated that he drove the silver colored Ford Taurus to and from the Landhope Farms store on the night the robbery occurred,” court records allege.
On Tuesday, after spending nearly five weeks in the county jail without bond, Roth was released on a $75,000 bond shortly after his bail review hearing earlier that day, court records show.