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Sheriff says W.Va. convenience store robberies might be related

January 23, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The suspect in the armed robbery Monday night at the ROCS convenience store and gas station in Martinsburg might be connected to an attempted robbery at another ROCS location in Inwood, W.Va., several hours earlier, Berkeley County Sheriff W. Randy Smith said Tuesday.

"We have a pretty good suspect (who) may be tied into the Inwood (incident)," Smith said.

The sheriff said authorities also were exploring the suspect's possible connection to two armed robberies in Front Royal, Va., which is south of Berkeley County, along Interstate 81.

The robbery at the ROCS store and BP gas station in Martinsburg at 1619 W. King St. was reported Monday at 11:44 p.m., police said. The attempted robbery at the ROCS store and Shell gas station at 4701 Gerrardstown Road was reported Monday about 3:30 a.m.

The suspect descriptions provided to police in both ROCS store incidents are similar and both businesses are close to exits for I-81.

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In the Martinsburg incident, the suspect was described as 5 feet 5 inches tall and between 35 and 40 years old.

In Inwood, the suspect was said to be 5 feet 8 inches tall and about 40, police said.

On Monday night, the suspect entered the ROCS store in Martinsburg's west end and demanded money from the clerk, police said. She was told he wouldn't hurt her if she gave him the money.

The clerk complied with his demands and he left the store, police said.

Police said he was wearing a green camouflage jacket, blue jeans and white sneakers. He had short brown hair and some facial hair. One witness who was entering the store as the man left described him as possibly having a mole on his face.

That same witness also observed a blue car in the parking lot when he arrived at the store. The car was described as a dark blue, early-1990s GM sedan, possibly a Buick or Oldsmobile.

Berkeley County Sheriff's Department deputies went to the store and searched the area within minutes of receiving the report, but were unable to find him. Sgt. B.F. Hall of the criminal investigations division was called to the scene to assist.

In the Inwood incident, police said the suspect was wearing jeans and a gray hooded sweat shirt and a red flannel jacket over it. The sweat shirt's hood was pulled tight to partially conceal his face, police said. The clerk told deputies that the man had a droopy or hanging eyelid over his right eye.

The Inwood store clerk immediately hit an alarm panic button and went to the store office after the suspect showed a knife and demanded money, police said. The man then tried to open the register, but was unsuccessful and left the store, police said.

Anyone with information on either case may call the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department at 304-267-7000 or Berkeley County Crime Solvers at 304-267-4999.

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