Crime

Store clerk bound, robbed at gunpoint by trio suspected in similar crimes

The Shell station in the St. Andrews community in Jackson County was robbed early Monday morning, Dec. 26, 2016. Officials believe the men who robbed the store are the same suspects in a break-in at a Shell station in Ocean Springs on Dec. 20.
The Shell station in the St. Andrews community in Jackson County was robbed early Monday morning, Dec. 26, 2016. Officials believe the men who robbed the store are the same suspects in a break-in at a Shell station in Ocean Springs on Dec. 20. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

Jackson County authorities are searching for three men who forced a store clerk to the ground, tied her up and robbed her at gunpoint early Monday morning, Sheriff Mike Ezell said Tuesday.

The same three suspects, all black males wearing gloves and black clothing, are believed to the same individuals responsible for a Dec. 20 break-in at an Ocean Springs Shell station and an attempted robbery at Polk’s Drugs in the St. Martin community.

Three burglary suspects involved in two breakups are caught on surveillance cameras outside of the Shell on US 90 in Ocean Springs.

The latest robbery occurred early Monday at the Shell gas station and convenience store in the 1200 block of Main Street in the St. Andrews community.

Once the trio had bound the clerk, Ezell said, they stole the store’s safe, an ATM machine and the store’s surveillance equipment. Investigators believe customers may have stopped by the store during the robbery, but probably thought it was closed because the suspects had shut off the lights inside.

The suspects left the store in a vehicle, though a description was not available.

In the earlier incident at the Ocean Springs Shell station in the 1120 block of U.S. 90, the suspects broke in about 1:15 a.m.

According to police, the suspects in that case pried open the front door to get inside and stole a safe and an ATM machine along with cigarettes and energy drinks. A surveillance camera caught video footage of the crime.

The video shows a newer model Ford Econoline van in front of the station. The video also shows the suspects on the lookout, and using a cart to carry a safe and an ATM out of the store. The cart, police said, belonged to the store and was left behind.

The same morning around 2 a.m., police said, an attempted break-in occurred at Polk’s Drugs at 6008 Washington Ave.

Deputies got an alarm call at the business, and found someone had managed to partially pry open the front door.

The alarm apparently scared the suspects off, police said, and cameras caught images of the suspects driving away in the same van as the one shown in the Ocean Springs burglary.

Nothing was stolen from the drug store.

Authorities found the safe stolen from the Shell station dumped at the corner of Washington Avenue and Palfrey Street.

The sheriff is advising residents not to approach anyone they believe may be responsible for the burglaries because they are considered armed and dangerous.

To report information, call 911, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department at 228-769-3063, Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-877-787-5898 or log on to mscoastcrimestoppers.com to leave a tip. Rewards of up to $1,000 are offered for information leading to an arrest.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

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