LINNDALE, Ohio-- For years, the village of Linndale has been heavily criticized for its aggressive speed enforcement.
But following an armed robbery attempt earlier this month, the community's speed enforcement cameras are now credited with helping identify two accomplices as they were speeding away from the scene.
On Aug. 7 police were called to the Family Dollar at the intersection of West 117th Street and Bellaire Avenue. An armed suspect approached two men in the store's parking lot.
Linndale Police Chief Tim Franczak said the masked gunman was going through the pockets of one man when the other, with a concealed carry license, drew his weapon and ordered the robber to get away.
Police learned the robber, identified as Varshaun Stephen Dukes, 22, of East Cleveland, fired first. Then the man with the CCW returned fire, hitting Dukes in the head.
"It's still under investigation, but all investigations lead to the fact that this person did exercise a lawful right to protect himself and returned fire just to save his life and the life of his passenger," Franczak said.
During the investigation, police viewed surveillance video that they say shows Dukes, with the mask on, getting out of a white car parked behind the store. The video also shows the car speeding away toward Memphis Avenue after the shots are fired.
"We tried to enhance the pictures and at no time could we get a plate of the vehicle or any distinguishing marks on the vehicle. It was very, it was somewhat grainy on the surveillance," Franczak said.
But Franczak said he realized that because the car turned onto Memphis, there were only two directions it could go. One leads right past the village's speed cameras.
"We can only assume that this person that is allegedly involved in this is not going to be travelling in a manner you and I would drive in. Their hands are not going to be at 2 and 10 o'clock listening to a baseball game. They are trying to get out of dodge," Franczak said.
Travelling at 46 in a 25 mph zone, the car triggered the speed cameras. Those captured a clear image of the car's license plate.
The car was traced back to two men, Mario Hubbard, 22, and Nathan Hubbard, 29, both of Cleveland.
"They were quite reluctant when they were first interviewed by investigators, but when shown evidence of the photo enforcement camera they, then became cooperative in this investigation," Franczak said.
Dukes remains hospitalized in critical condition with a .45 caliber bullet in his brain. If he survives, he will face charges that include aggravated armed robbery with a firearm specification and two counts of attempted murder.
Franczak said he was already wanted on probation for a previous burglary charge.
The Hubbards are both being charged with complicity to commit aggravated armed robbery with a firearm specification. If Dukes dies, Franczak said the Hubbards could also be complicit in his death.
The investigation is not yet complete, but Franczak said as of Monday, there is nothing that leads authorities to believe the dollar store customer with a concealed carry who shot Dukes in self defense will face any charges.
Franczak is convinced that with a getaway driver and a lookout, the trio was likely to commit other crimes, and had it not been for the community's much-despised speed camera they may never have been able to identify them.