Two charged after auto parts store robbery, fatal officer-involved shooting bound over for trial

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY — Two people charged in connection with an armed robbery and subsequent officer-involved shooting appeared in court on Thursday, May 19th. The court found probable cause for both to stand trial.

20-year-old Gregory Rounds faces one count of felony murder (habitual criminality repeater) and one count of felony bail jumping (habitual criminality repeater). He has pleaded not guilty. He will next be in court on June 2nd.

Gregory Rounds

Gregory Rounds

Rounds is facing a felony murder charge for allegedly being involved in a crime where someone was killed.

Prosecutors say Rounds and Burt Johnson robbed the O’Reilly Auto Parts store near 76th and Mill. Rounds and Johnson eventually fled the store — and Johnson was chased by police.

Police say Johnson fired shots at officers during the foot pursuit — and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said one officer was struck in his chest. His life was saved by his ballistic vest.

Johnson was fatally shot by two Milwaukee police officers near 73rd and Mill.

Officer-involved shooting at 73rd and Mill on May 5th

Officer-involved shooting at 73rd and Mill on May 5th

According to the criminal complaint filed against Rounds, investigators spoke with a citizen who indicated he was at the O’Reilly Auto Parts store on Thursday night to buy brake parts for a truck he was working on, and he was working with a female cashier who “froze” with a “frightened look on her face.” When the man turned towards the door, he said he saw two black males armed with semi-automatic handguns walking towards them. The man said one of the suspects told the cashier: “All I want is the cash. Open or empty the cash register.” The cashier followed orders — opening the register.

The complaint states that one of the suspects saw other employees in the store and ordered them to open other cash registers. The suspects kept repeating “this is a robbery,” according to the complaint, and one of the suspects appeared to have a working knowledge of how the cash registers and safe worked.

Burt Johnson

Burt Johnson

Once the cash registers were opened, the witness said one suspect ordered everyone in the store into the office, and they were made to lie down on their stomachs. The suspect then patted everyone down to see if they had a cell phone.

One suspect then yelled to another suspect to check under the cash drawers for money, as the other suspect asked an employee when the safe would unlock.

The witness said at one point, both suspects fled from the building. The witness said he “doesn’t know what spooked them.”

Shortly thereafter, a police officer opened the door and told everyone to stay down and lock the doors.

The complaint indicates both suspects fled the store out the back door.

Then, during a foot pursuit investigators say on at least two occasions, Burt Johnson fired rounds at police. In response, police returned fire — killing Johnson near 73rd and Mill.

73rd and Mill

The complaint indicates a black Springfield .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun was recovered near 76th and Mill, with 10 .45 caliber steel and copper unfired cartridges in it.

During their investigation into the armed robbery, investigators were able to lift fingerprints from the glass door believed to have been used by the suspects to flee the store. Two of those prints were determined to be the left palm print of Gregory Rounds.

Police interviewed Gregory Rounds, who indicated on May 5th, he was with his cousin, Burt Johnson, who had asked Rounds: “Do you want to hit a store?”

O'Reilly Auto Parts

O’Reilly Auto Parts

The complaint indicates Rounds said he agreed to do the robbery, indicating that “he needed the money.” He said he got into a car with Johnson and they parked a couple blocks west of the O’Reilly store. Rounds said Johnson walked into the store first, and he followed. Rounds said both he and Johnson had their handguns out and Johnson gave demands to two employees to get the money out of the registers and the safe. Rounds said both he and Johnson took money from the registers and the employees.

Rounds said it was Johnson who told the employees to open the safe, and Johnson who patted down those who were in the store, while they were lying on the ground in the office, while Johnson was waiting for the safe to open.

Rounds said at one point, Johnson yelled “let’s go,” and he knew that to mean the police were outside.

Rounds said Johnson ran out the door and headed east. He said since he knew police were chasing Johnson, he ran out the door and headed south. Rounds told investigators he ditched his gun and all of his money.

Investigators showed Rounds a photo of the firearm recovered at the scene and he identified it as the firearm he had used during the robbery.

The complaint makes reference to an open felony case filed against Rounds for possession with intent to delivery cocaine, less than one gram. He was released on bail in that case on the condition he commit no new crimes.

The complaint also makes reference to Rounds 2013 conviction for child abuse, recklessly causing harm in connection with the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl at Homestead High School.

Gregory Rounds -- 2013

Gregory Rounds — 2013

He was sentenced to serve 18 months probation in that case.

According to the criminal complaint, Rounds asked a 14-year-old girl to perform oral sex for him after leaving a basketball game at Homestead High School on January 10th.

The criminal complaint indicates the 14-year-old agreed and performed the act.

The complaint further states that Rounds confirmed the incident occurred when questioned by police.

Latonya James

Latonya James

The other person charged in connection with the O’Reilly armed robbery and officer-involved shooting is 30-year-old Latonya James. Investigators say she purchased guns for Burt Johnson.

This is called a “straw purchase” — when someone purchases a firearm legally, and gives it to someone prohibited from having one.

James is facing a felony charge of furnishing a firearm to an unauthorized person. She has pleaded not guilty. She will next be in court on June 6th.

According to the criminal complaint, the guns were purchased on Friday, April 8th at Gander Mountain in Germantown.

An investigation has revealed that during the armed robbery at the O’Reilly store, Johnson was armed with a “Springfield .45 caliber pistol.” Investigators obtained the serial number, and a trace of the weapon revealed it was purchased on April 8th at Gander Mountain on Commerce Circle in Germantown by Latonya James.

The complaint states that James purchased a second firearm at the same time — a Smith & Wesson M&P .40 caliber pistol.

James was interviewed by police on May 6th at her workplace in New Berlin.

According to the complaint, James said Burt Johnson had been her boyfriend — and she admitted to purchasing the two firearms and giving those weapons to Johnson.

Investigators say James initially said Johnson offered to buy her a gun and took her to Gander Mountain. When they got to the store, Johnson handled numerous firearms and instructed James to buy two guns. James said Johnson gave her the money to buy the guns. James said Johnson also had her purchase ammunition.

The complaint indicates James told investigators a couple days after purchasing the guns, she went back to Gander Mountain to pick them up, and then went over to Johnson’s home and gave them to him.

James said she “knows she should never have given the guns to Johnson,” according to the complaint.

The complaint indicates investigators were able to obtain video from the Gander Mountain store showing the purchase of these firearms. The video shows Johnson and James arriving at the store together, and looking at guns together. After the firearms were selected, James can be seen in the video filling out paperwork. At the checkout, James and Johnson were both seen providing money for the purchase.

Gander Mountain store in Germantown

Gander Mountain store in Germantown

A check with the DOJ revealed James picked up the firearms from Gander Mountain on April 8th at 8:15 p.m.

The complaint makes reference to the fact that Burt Johnson was prohibited from possessing firearms at the time of the transfer of the firearms from James to Johnson because he was a convicted felon — convicted of burglary in 2009 — so this was a “straw buy,” where a person purchases firearms for an individual who cannot purchase them himself.