Safety head ‘concerned’ about rash of robberies

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Two 17-year-old juveniles have been arrested and charged with the armed robbery of McDonald’s on Sunday, Oct. 12.

Samuel Fluker, 17, of Demopolis, and John Gilbert, 17, of Demopolis, have both been arrested and charged as adults for the hold-up of the fast-food restaurant.

But there is no rest for the weary. Just before breaking the McDonald’s case, Demopolis Police were forced to begin an investigation into another armed robbery &045; this one at Dollar General.

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On Wednesday, Oct. 15, police were called to Dollar General on U.S. Highway 80 East after an employee was held at gunpoint. The robber forced the employee to open the store’s cash register and fled after taking an undisclosed amount of money.

In the McDonald’s case, Officers Rex Flowers and Zack Fluker, along with Det. Sgt. Tim Soronen, used information from witnesses to identify and arrest the two suspects, who are being held at the Marengo County Detention Center under $25,000 bond.

Police Chief Charles Avery said the arrest of Gilbert and Samuel Fluker does not mean the case has been closed yet.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the Dollar General robbery had led to no arrests as of press time. Because of the sensitive nature of the investigation, Avery could not comment on suspects or leads the Demopolis Police Department is following.

Jeff Manuel, public safety director for the city of Demopolis, doesn’t like the trend he sees in the community, even admitting he is "concerned about what’s going on."

In every city, robberies become more prevalent as the holiday season approaches. That has been the case in Demopolis and Manuel expects the same to be true this year.

While any criminal intent on robbing a business is hard to stop, Manuel said the city will begin offering training sessions to retailers in Demopolis within the next month.

According to Manuel, the robbery of McDonald’s may have been avoided if a normally locked door wouldn’t have been open last week. As for the Dollar General robbery, Manuel said there are more questions that have to be answered before police can make a determination of what happened.

Though Manuel wants to see retailers take more precautions that could help avoid robberies, the public safety director lauded his police force and Soronen for the work they did in the McDonald’s robbery.

For instance, a robbery of Elk Food Mart earlier this summer still has not been solved.