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After a brief chase on the Grand Central Parkway last Thursday night, police arrested a man who was wanted in connection with the armed robberies of more than a dozen Radio Shack stores throughout the city and Long Island, including six in Queens.
The police pieced together the robbery pattern back on July 11, when they discovered that an unusual number of Radio Shack stores had been robbed in the past few months, police officials said. In all, at least 16 stores in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Nassau and Suffolk counties had been targeted by at least one man whom police identified as David Johnson, officials said. It was unclear where he lives.
Johnson, along with three other men, were arrested last Thursday by officers from the Robbery and Apprehension Squad of the 109th Precinct who were staking out a Radio Shack near the Whitestone Expressway in Whitestone, officials said. It was part of an operation in which undercover officers were dispatched to Radio Shack stores in Queens to keep them under surveillance.
The names of the other three defendants were not immediately known.
As of Friday night, Johnson was still waiting to be arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on charges of first-degree armed robbery, a spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney said. In Queens, Johnson has been linked to six Radio Shack robberies, including one in Kew Gardens and another in Ozone Park, according to police officials and a complaint filed by the district attorney.
It was unclear how much money was stolen as a result of the robberies.
Around 7:30 p.m. last Thursday, the undercover officers staking out the Radio Shack in Whitestone saw Johnson and the other men milling around outside the store, officials said. After the officers approached the men, who matched descriptions of the suspects wanted in connection with the robberies, the men got back into their car and sped away, officials said.
The police chased the vehicle, driving onto the Grand Central Parkway and becoming involved in two accidents that resulted in no injuries, police officials said. The chase eventually turned into a short foot pursuit during which the police arrested the four men, officials said. A weapon was found on Johnson, the officials said, but it turned out to be a replica of a real gun.
Johnson has been identified as the suspect in three line-ups in Queens, four in Nassau County, L.I., one in Brooklyn, and one in Suffolk County, L.I., officials said. Prosecutors also said that Johnson assaulted a police officer from the 109th Precinct as his arrest paperwork was being processed. Attempting to escape, Johnson ran toward an exit door and punched the officer in the chest, then wrestled him to the ground, the complaint said.
Although the locations of some of the Radio Shack stores robbed in Queens were unclear, criminal complaints filed by the Queens district attorney show that three of the stores were in western Queens, including Forest Hills, Ozone Park and Kew Gardens. Police officials said the stores were usually robbed between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., or right before closing time.
The most recent robbery occurred July 30, when Johnson allegedly entered a store in Ozone Park, on Liberty Avenue near 113th Street, and told a clerk to hand over big bills, prosecutors said. The clerk complied. A weapon in hand, Johnson allegedly then told him, If you follow me, I will come back, according to the complaint.
Almost three weeks before that, prosecutors contend, Johnson went into a Radio Shack in Kew Gardens on Queens Boulevard and ordered an employee to hand over money. Pointing a black gun at her, he said: Give me all the money. Youre going to slow. Hurry or I will shoot you, according to the complaint. Johnson fled with the money, prosecutors said.
On July 8, a Radio Shack store in Forest Hills, on 71st Avenue near 107th Street, was robbed shortly after 7 p.m., prosecutors said. Johnson allegedly demanded that the employee hand over money, the complaint said.
Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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