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Man charged minutes after dollar store robbery

September 29, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - A Martinsburg man was taken into custody minutes after a robbery at a Dollar General store Wednesday because a deputy with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department decided to scour the back roads for the getaway car instead of the main roads leading to the store, Sgt. Willie Johnson said.

William L. Offutt, of Martinsburg, W.Va., was charged with second-degree robbery in connection with the 2 p.m. incident at the Dollar General store in Hedgesville. Johnson said he did not know Offutt's age or exact address.

The store was robbed when a man wearing a motorcycle helmet walked inside and gave a clerk a note that read, "Give me your money and no one will get hurt," Johnson said.

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The man also yelled at the clerk to give him money and ran from the store after receiving cash, police said.

Several clerks in the store watched the man get into a red passenger car and obtained the license plate number, police said. Emergency officials relayed the information over police radio frequencies, prompting Sgt. Dan McGown to drive along back roads in the area looking for the car.

McGown spotted the car and pulled it over on Dry Run Road near City Hospital, police said.

"It was good work on Dan's part," Johnson said.

Three people who were in the car were separated. A woman in the car told police that she and a man with her gave Offutt, an acquaintance, a ride to the store and then a ride back when he flagged them down later, police said.

The woman also told police that Offutt threw several items out of the car's window. She led police to an area where a motorcycle helmet and other items were found, Johnson said.

No weapon was shown but the robber made gestures with his hands in his pockets, police said.

"His gestures and the note (made) the girls fear for their safety," Johnson said.

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