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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3, 2007
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Decatur rife with robberies in recent days

By Seth Burkett
sburkett@decaturdaily.com 340-2355

Too many people have found themselves looking down the barrel of a pistol the past few days, Decatur police said.

At least five robberies were reported since Thursday, said Lt. Chris Mathews, a police spokesman.

Two Hispanic men entered Novedadas Margaret, a women's clothing at 1414-A Sixth Ave. S.E., while a third man waited outside in a dark-colored sport utility vehicle Friday evening, police said.

One of the men pulled a handgun and demanded money from the owner, Altagracia Bello.

Bello, 35, opened the register, and the man grabbed an unknown amount of cash from the drawer.

The third man entered the store and helped the others raid the jewelry display cases, police said.

They also took Bello's ring and cell phone and then tied her up and left her in the store. After the men left, Bello managed to free herself and call police.

Police did not say whether they believe the robbery is connected to the Dec. 8 robbery at Esmeralda's Jewelry. Three Hispanic gunmen cleaned out display cases at the 805 Sixth Ave. S.E. store and left the owner, Esmeralda Chavez, and a friend, Hortencia MacKinnon, tied up in the back of the store.

A cook at Linda's Place, 2109 Alabama 20, allegedly was robbed and shot at by an acquaintance as he left the restaurant at about 11:00 p.m. Thursday, police said.

Cassius Leron "Toby" Wheeler, 30, told police he gave the man his money, keys and cell phone as demanded.

As the robber started to flee the scene, he fired three rounds from a handgun into Wheeler's vehicle, Wheeler told police.

Another man told police that two men robbed him at gunpoint after giving him a ride shortly after 10:30 p.m. Friday night, Mathews said.

Parking lot holdup

John Jennings, 51, told police a white male and a black male picked him up alongside Beltline Road Southwest and drove him to a parking lot behind Calvary Assembly.

The pair allegedly took about $68, forced Jennings out of the car and then drove away.

A clerk at S&S Quick Stop, 2605 Centron Drive, told police she opened the register to get a customer's change and looked up into the barrel of a pistol at about 10:30 Saturday night, Mathews said.

The gunman, described as a Hispanic male in his 20s, wearing a blue sweater and a baseball cap, grabbed the money from the drawer and ran out the door, Mathews said.

A Domino's Pizza driver making a delivery at Studio Nine, 440 Johnston St. S.E., descended the stairs to find a masked gunman waiting at about 10 p.m. Monday, Mathews said.

The robber took a small amount of cash from the driver, who then drove to a nearby convenience store and called police.

The driver had earlier seen the gunman, who was wearing a brown and tan hood, black mask and black shirt, sitting in the front seat of a gold 1990s model Chevrolet Suburban.

Anyone with information on these crimes or others can call the confidential police tip line at 341-INFO (4636).

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