A 32-year-old Euclid man was apprehended last week after a string of armed robberies in Geauga and Lake Counties.
David Johnson, 32, was arrested Jan. 29 at his Euclid home following a joint effort by four law enforcement agencies. Mr. Johnson is charged in Geauga County with two counts of aggravated robbery, although more charges are expected to be filed, officials said.
Mr. Johnson is suspected in seven robberies in Lake and Geauga counties from Jan. 16 through Jan. 21.
“Shared cooperation was instrumental in leading to this arrest,” said Euclid Police Chief Scott Meyer, whose department made the arrest after working with the Lake and Geauga county sheriff’s offices and Willoughby Police Department. “We need perpetrators to understand if you go into these jurisdictions, we’re going to find you.”
Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand, who called a press conference last week to announce the arrest, acknowledged that working together brought a quick end to the crimes that had left many store workers and the public on edge. He was joined by Chief Meyer, Detective Lt. James Schultz with the Willoughby Police Department and Lake County Sheriff Frank Leonbruno.
“This is how we get these bad guys off the street – the spirit of cooperation that we can have with these agencies that are all around us,” Sheriff HIldenbrand said.
Mr. Johnson is suspected of being behind the robberies Jan. 18 at a BP service station in Parkman Township and a Dollar General Store in Chardon Township, as well as two service stations and a Dollar General store in Lake County.
Sheriff Leonbruno said there was an urgency to capture the robber because he was escalating the violence in each of the robberies.
“He was grabbing individuals, taking them, kidnapping them, throwing them around in the store against counters, out to vehicles, and you saw in subsequent footage that he was doing the same thing in other aggravated robberies that he was doing,” Sheriff Leonbruno said. “That’s why our great concern was for the citizens and for the safety of businesses and those individuals.”
He said the department relied heavily on social media to alert the public and seek their help. “Your tips and ideas help move cases forward,” he said.
Social media was used quickly to also inform the public immediately after the arrest, he said, to alleviate the fear in the community that had led to the closing of Dollar General stores by the district office and had other store clerks nervously seeking police patrols following the robberies.
Sheriff Hildenbrand said police recovered clothing, a handgun and mask that matched the robbers’ depiction in store video surveillance cameras.
He said the cooperation shown by the various law enforcement agencies shows the dedicated work each brings to their job every day.
“We’re all here to do a good job and we’re here to make the public safe and make this a good community to live in and not have to fear this kind of activity,” Sheriff Hildenbrand said.
“I think sometimes law enforcement gets a bad rap, and this is a perfect example of a group of dedicated detectives and patrol officers and deputies that we all employ,” he continued. “And I, for one, am very proud of the job that they did, and as quickly as they did it, and we got this guy off the streets so people don’t have to worry about it.”