Akron community resting easier after K-9 helps capture suspect in series of armed robberies

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AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – On November 12, John Bibey was at work when two people dressed in black came into the BP Pitstop he manages, demanding money.

“I told them, ‘You are in the wrong place. You are not going to get anything here.’ They said, ‘oh yeah,’ and they shot at my feet,” Bibey told FOX 8 News.

He put some money from a cash drawer in a bag and gave it to them, but he said they wanted more.

“I pulled out 100 bucks, put it in a bag they said, ‘Oh no, we want everything.”

Then, they fired additional shots at his feet. Police say the robbery happened just a short time after an armed robbery of several men outside of the Park Place Bar in the Firestone Park Community, which is believed to be the work of the same two criminals.

The crimes are just a few in an escalating list of armed robberies in the community over just the past few weeks.

The same individuals are believed to be responsible for the armed robbery of a Family Dollar Store in mid-November where a gun was held to the head of an employee and a bullet fired into the ceiling in an attempt to disable a security camera.

Another armed robbery happened at a Firestone Park Walgreens store.

During the robbery of a Mini Mart, not far from the Park Place Bar, the owner’s brother was shot and seriously wounded despite the fact that he complied with all of the robber’s demands.

“He raised his hands like this, he went like that to protect himself but they just shot him,” said Lakhan Gohmil, the store’s owner.

Many residents of the Firestone Park Community shared with FOX 8 that the robberies have had them afraid, concerned about sharing their fright on camera.

“It’s not normal for individuals to just routinely start to rob places in the same community, so it really puts a lot of the residents on edge,” said Akron City Council member Donnie Kammer, who represents the Firestone Park Community.

With the escalating number of robberies and the willingness of those responsible to shoot at their victims, Akron police detectives and officers placed an urgency on identifying and capturing those responsible.

“We essentially saw (the Mini Mart shooting) coming. That’s why it was so important to get out, try to be out in front of it in terms of utilizing all of our assets,” said Akron Police Lieutenant Michael Miller.

On Monday, the same Family Dollar store that was robbed less than two weeks earlier was robbed once again by the same two individuals.

This time, Akron Police Officer Jeff Edsall had a plan and executed it successfully.

Edsall, along with his K-9 partner Justice, responded to the robbery.

Detectives had already gathered information that led them to believe one of the gunmen lived in the area and Edsall, acting on that information, was able to identify a suspect within blocks of the robbery.

He gave the command for Justice to chase the suspect and the K9 was able to catch up with him, grab onto him and continue to hold him until officers could take him into custody.

Police say the suspect is 17 years old.

They also recovered a gun that is believed to have been the one used in the robberies.

The teen is in custody facing multiple serious charges with gun specifications for which it is possible he could be tried as an adult.

Police continue to search for at least one accomplice, but the arrest of one of the two suspects leaves those who were victimized by the robberies relieved.

“That dog deserves a big bonus, big dinner for sure,” said Bibey. “We are very happy that you know at least one got caught. A lot of innocent people in the neighborhood, they can feel rest because, you know, the last few weeks its been terrible,” said Gohmil, whose brother remains hospitalized because of the shooting.

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