Gang initiation behind 7-11 robbery, arrest made with help from community
By Caitlin Davis
Oct 22, 2012, 12:16
In the early morning hours Monday, three male suspects, one armed with a rifle, entered the 7-11 at 2311 Oaklawn Blvd, held the clerk at gun point and demanded money.
After putting the undisclosed amount of money into a backpack, the suspects fled on foot. Thirty-two hours later, arrests were made in the robbery, which appears to have been part of a gang initiation.
Duwuan Arkeem Thomas, 22 of Hopewell, has been charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Jermaine Javier Thomas, 20, of Hopewell has been charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, gang participation, gang recruitment and threatening to commit an act of violence in furtherance of the gang. A juvenile, 15, of Hopewell has been charged with robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and gang participation.
Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane said the juvenile was being initiated into the gang the night of the robbery and that the older accomplices were trying to bring him into the gang.
“[Gangs] are no longer a big city problem,” Keohane said. “Gang behavior is in almost every community. We are trying to gain as much information as we can...Most of our gangs are not nationally affiliated gangs.”
The Virginia State Police are helping the Hopewell Police Department gain information on gang intelligence in the city.
Keohane said assistance from the U.S. Marshall’s Regional Task Force and tips from the community helped police start their search for the men and led to investigation of the gang related nature of the robbery.
“It is all about building that trust in the community and within that trust we will get more information from our citizens,” Keohane said.
Keohane said he wants to continue developing trust in the community and that tips, such as the ones that came through to help lead to the arrest help the police and the community as a whole.
“The more we build that trust and show professionalism and hold all stakeholders accountable, it will lead us in the right direction to reduce crime in Hopewell, “ Keohane said.
The Hopewell Police Department is working with the Virginia State Police Special Agents as well as detectives from the surrounding localities to investigate possible connections in other robberies.