‘Needed money for drugs:’ 3 federally charged in connection with 7 armed robberies in 10 days

MILWAUKEE — Three people are facing federal charges in connection with seven armed robberies in 10 days — Jan. 15. through Jan. 25 in Milwaukee.

Braulio Rodriguez, Karl Schneider and Erin Kmichik are facing charges for “Hobbs Act robbery” and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

They’re accused in connection with the below crimes:

Jan. 15: Armed robbery at Orgullo Latino Mini Mart near 9th and Arthur

Federal prosecutors say one suspect demanded money from an employee while armed, while a second suspect stood outside the door. The suspect with the gun racked the slide and demanded that the employee hurry, before obtaining cash from the register, approximately $150. Both suspects then fled the scene.

Jan. 17: Armed robbery at Arthur Foods near 6th and Arthur

Prosecutors say one suspect racked the slide of a firearm, pointing it at an employee — demanding money, while a second suspect again stood outside the door. The suspect got away with $295 and a pack of Newport cigarettes. Both then fled on foot.

Jan. 19: Armed robbery at Roman’s Foods near 18th and Kerney Pl

Surveillance video showed two suspects approached the front of the store, one armed with a handgun. Employees engaged the magnetic door lock in an effort to keep the door closed, but the armed suspect repeatedly pushed on it and forced it open — entering the store and demanding money. Prosecutors say as the armed suspect racked the slide of the firearm, the second suspect held the door open. Employees got into the back room — and the suspects got away with nothing.

Jan. 21: Armed robbery at Scott Beer and Food near 33rd and Scott

Prosecutors say an armed suspect racked the slide of a firearm and demanded money from an employee while the second suspect stood outside the door. The armed suspect got away with $696 — and both suspects fled on foot.

Jan. 23: Armed robbery at Centro Cafe near Bremen and Center

Prosecutors say an armed suspect pointed a handgun at an employee and demanded money — getting $260 while the second suspect stood at the door. Both then fled the store.

Jan. 25: Armed robbery at Arthur Food Mart near 6th and Arthur

The armed suspect racked the slide of a handgun and demanded money and a pack of cigarettes from an employee while the second suspect stayed by the door. A silver Dodge Dart was identified as a potential getaway vehicle. The store reported a loss of $100 and a pack of Newport cigarettes.

Jan. 25: Armed robbery at Frank’s Food Mart near 9th and Arthur

Undercover officers conducted surveillance at the food mart and observed two suspects — Braulio Rodriguez and Karl Schneider approach the entrance. They then pulled masks over their faces and Rodriguez was seen with a handgun. Rodriguez went into the store while Schneider stood at the door, holding it open. When they fled the store, walking over to where the undercover officers were parked, the officers exited their vehicle and arrested the suspects. Prosecutors say as Rodriguez was taken into custody, a Glock .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol with eight cartridges fell from his waistband.

The officers were informed that Frank’s Food Mart had just been robbed of $550.

A silver Dodge Dart was spotted in the area — registered to Schneider. It was stopped near 5th and Becher and Erin Kmichik, the driver, was arrested.

The federal criminal complaint says Schneider was interviewed by police on Jan. 25 after his arrest. He admitted to all of the above crimes except for the robbery at Orgullo Latino Mini Mart on Jan. 15. He said Rodriguez was armed during each crime and Kmichik waited in the getaway car. Schneider said he and Rodriguez were heroin addicts, and they needed money for drugs.

Kmichik said the group decided to commit the crimes because they had no money and needed money for drugs. She admitted to driving the getaway vehicle. She said all three suspects would use the money obtained during the crimes to purchase drugs.

Rodriguez also admitted to the crimes, and said he used Schneider’s firearm to commit the robberies.