UPDATE: Police arrest suspects in string of armed robberies
Posted By: Camila Orti
Lincoln police say they’ve arrested several suspects they believe are responsible for a string of armed robberies in the Capital City.
At a news conference Sunday, LPD Chief Jim Peschong says they arrested 32-year-old David Berlie around 7:45 a.m. for 12 counts of robbery and 12 counts of possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited person. Police also arrested 38-year-old Romone Ford of Grand Island and 19-year-old Kellee Smith of Central City for five counts each of aiding and abetting robbery. Peschong says Ford helped Berlie pick out the locations, and kept a portion of the stolen money.
Berlie’s arrest came about 45 minutes after police believe he robbed The Egg & I at 6891 A Street at gunpoint Sunday morning. Officials say a man with a handgun came through the employee entrance, pointed his weapon at the employee and forced them to open a safe. Police say the suspect took a couple bank bags, then forced the four employees in the restaurant into the bathroom, sprayed them with Mace, and told them to stay put.
Another related robbery happened just before 3 a.m. at the Motel 6 on North 28th Street. Police say the robber came into the lobby with a handgun and a plastic bag, crawled over the counter and demanded an employee to open a safe. The employee didn’t have the combination, so the suspect took cash from the drawer, a cell phone, and then fled, police say.
Peschong says Berlie had been staying at the Starlite Motel near 52nd and Cornhusker Highway, where police set up a stake out and ended up arresting him.
“Officers observed him in some similar clothing that the robber at the Egg & I was wearing, they went up and made contact with him,” Police Chief Jim Peschong said. “Located in a Volkswagen Jetta that he’d been driving was a .22 caliber handgun as well as a can of Mace.”
Dennis Gatch was staying right next door to Berlie at the Starlite. He says he woke up to police lights in his window.
“Everybody was locked and loaded, they had their shields and the guns pulled and batons and everything like that,” Gatch said.
At least 12 commercial robberies have taken place since January 26. The businesses targeted include three hotels, six restaurants, a vapor shop, a convenience store and a grocery store. Peschong says around 24 investigators and officers have been working nonstop to track down suspects.
News of the arrest comes as a big relief to many, especially those like Stephanie Westberg whose Dairy Queen was targeted.
“We are all feeling a very big sigh of relief, we are very very grateful to the Lincoln Police Department,” Westberg said.
Police are still investigating to see if there are any others involved. Luckily, officials say nobody was seriously injured in any of the 12 robberies, but police confirmed the gun involved in Sunday’s incident at the Egg & I was fully loaded.