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Man charged with counts of burglary, armed robbery

April 19, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - A bubble gum container that was stolen in a home-invasion armed robbery last week in Martinsburg appears to have helped police make an arrest in their investigation of at least two such crimes reported recently, Berkeley County Magistrate Court records show.

Gary Donzell Guest Jr., 21, of 702 Virginia Ave. in Martinsburg, was arraigned Wednesday on seven counts of armed robbery, seven counts of burglary and seven counts of wanton endangerment by Magistrate Jo Ann Overington, Martinsburg Police Department Detective Sgt. G.B. Swartwood said in a news release.

A $385,000 cash-only bond was set for Guest, who was being held Wednesday night in Eastern Regional Jail.

Guest is accused of taking part in home invasions at 304 S. Rosemont Ave. on April 12 and at 202 S. High St. on April 15, according to the complaint filed by Swartwood in magistrate court.

Swartwood said the police department hoped to make additional arrests, presumably of two people that the victims said entered their homes armed with firearms.

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Police were told that two black men donning ski masks armed with handguns forced two residents of 304 S. Rosemont Ave. into the basement of the home and ordered them to lay on the floor at about 11 p.m. on April 12.

"...there were several other people in the basement but they ran upstairs and locked the basement door," Swartwood said in his complaint

"... One of the (masked) men placed a gun (to the victim's) head and asked where all the money was."

The two men grabbed a plastic bubble gum container that had about $200 in change in it and ran out the door, Swartwood said.

A bubble gum container filled with dog food was found by police in Guest's vehicle, a green Mazda 626, in the early morning hours of April 15, near the location of the home invasion robbery at 202 S. High Street, Swartwood said.

Swartwood said a witness told police before the incident that he saw three individuals wearing masks get out of the vehicle after it was parked in the 400 block of East King Street.

A dog was left inside and the witness described the individuals as two white males and one black male. Police were told that all three were 5 feet 7 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall.

"At the time that multiple police units were arriving at this vehicle, they were alerted by area residents that three males had just ran down South High Street carrying guns," Swartwood said.

Five family members at 202 S. High St. told police they were awakened by two white males and a black male who pointed guns at their heads and ordered them not to look at the invaders.

They told police the trio robbed them of a gold watch, necklace, ring, cell phone and earrings after ransacking the house.

Swartwood said one female victim, who was ordered to the floor and covered with a blanket, somehow managed to crawl to the back door of the home and fled to her cousin's house next door to get help.

Though the invaders found keys to a vehicle in the home, they returned from it "yelling that 'the cops are here' and then fled," Swartwood said.

Swartwood said Guest provided a statement to police Sunday that indicated he was playing basketball by himself Saturday and that he had parked his Mazda off High Street, leaving his dog "Fat Boy" in the vehicle about 10:30 p.m. or 11 p.m., before going to a party in Hagerstown.

Swartwood said Guest indicated in his statement to police that he walked to Water Street from where he parked his car and met a girl who took him to the party and that he did not come back to Martinsburg until 3 p.m. Sunday.

But the girl that Guest identified did not verify his alibi in her recorded statement to police, Swartwood said.

"She advised she was told by Gary Guest to say that he was with her in Hagerstown at a party if anyone contacted her," Swartwood said.

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