04/25/08 — Robbery suspect caught

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Robbery suspect caught

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on April 25, 2008 1:46 PM

Goldsboro and Wayne County lawmen say county convenience store clerks --and patrons -- can breathe a little easier. The alleged armed robber is behind bars.

Authorities said late Thursday that Anthony Jerome Lee, who turned 40 today, has been charged with a 12-robbery crime spree that began March 8.

News-Argus Video Report

Police say there might be one more suspect to catch, but Goldsboro and Wayne authorities said warrants had been issued for Lee on all 12 robberies.

Lee moved in recent months from a relative's house on Rollingwood Drive in Dudley to a Maple Street address in Goldsboro, according to police.

Authorities now expect to charge him in a string of store robberies using a sawed-off shotgun with duct tape on the handle, threatening clerks.

Police gathered video surveillance evidence early in the case, but Lee covered his body well and avoided witnesses, according to authorities.

In most of the incidents, Lee demanded cash and Newport cigarettes, but also targeted a truck driver and a female employee of a city laundromat, police said.

Goldsboro police Sgt. Chad Calloway said police have connected Lee to the two incidents early Thursday, but expect more warrants against the man.

Wayne County Sheriff's Office Capt. Tom Effler said detectives charged Lee in all three robberies that happened in the county's jurisdiction.

The string of break-ins started March 8, police said.

That's when police accuse Lee of committing his first armed robbery, victimizing The Pantry at 1601 E. Ash St., around 11:30 p.m., according to records.

Then Lee began an alleged string of 11 more robberies -- including two early Thursday morning -- before his arrest that day.

A suspect matching Lee's description also hit two stores twice -- East Coast Oil on U.S. 70 East and the East Ash Street Pantry location.

In one robbery, the victim reported that two men were involved. Calloway said that is still under investigation.

"We have reason to believe that on that one, there were two people," Calloway said. "However, we're still working that part."

Police credited the arrest to a break in the case they said they could not yet describe to the public.

Calloway said that while he believes the man responsible for the string of robberies is off the street, clerks should still take care.

"We believe that the person that did this was kind of casing the place," Calloway said. "He was able to come in when there was no one else in the store. With a lot of (area) stores, it's kind of hard to do. He (Lee) was somewhere watching the store. Be cognizant of your surroundings."

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said he was glad police believed they had the suspect responsible for the armed robbery attempts.

"(Lee) was terrifying a lot of people out there, especially these clerks," Winders said. "I know a lot of citizens were concerned throughout the community. I'm glad we were able to solve it."

Police Chief Tim Bell expressed similar sentiment.

"Once we got that break, we had some good people working on it, both in the police department and the sheriff's department," Bell said. "We're going to be clearing a lot of cases today (Friday)."