MILWAUKEE -- Two men accused in a string of armed robberies dating back to September of last year will stand trial.
Milwaukee police have charged two men in an armed robbery at the Auto Zone near 63rd and Capitol Drive. 32-year-old Robert Earl Nash and 29-year-old Jason Wilson have each been charged with two counts of armed robbery (use of force) as party to a crime, four counts of false imprisonment as party to a crime, and one count each of possession of a firearm by a felon, for the incident at 63rd and Capitol. Additionally, police say the two are facing 27 felony charges resulting from a number of armed robberies.
Police say Wilson confessed to committing several armed robberies and implicated Nash as his accomplice. According to police, Wilson said he "probably would have shot it out with police officers if they had tried to stop him."
Wilson is currently on probation for felon in possession of a firearm, and narcotics offenses. Nash is on probation for recklessly endangering safety. Police say both have extensive arrest records with MPD. Police say Wilson was arrested in September of 2011 for suspicion of committing similar armed robberies, but was released due to insufficient evidence to formerly charge him.
Police say Wilson and Nash are responsible for eight armed robberies - at Auto Zone, O'Reilly Auto Parts and Family Dollar stores, between September of 2011 and February of 2012, before detectives and MPD officers were able to take them into custody on February 14th.
Police say the suspects are suspected to have robbed the following businesses on the following dates:
- 9-10-11: Auto Zone, 6312 W. Capitol Drive
- 9-14-11: Family Dollar, 8917 W. Brown Deer Road
- 9-19-11: Auto Zone 7377 N. 76th Street
- 9-24-11: O'Reilly Auto Parts, 272 E. Capitol Drive
- 9-27-11: Advance Auto Parts 7440 Brown Deer Road
- 9-29-11: O'Reilly Auto Parts 5940 W. Bluemound Road
- 1-29-12: Auto Zone 2475 W. North Ave.
- 2-05-12: Auto Zone 6312 W. Capitol Drive
The criminal complaint in the case says MPD detectives were conducting surveillance near the area of 39th and Galena on February 14th when they observed Wilson drive up to 39th and Galena. They they observed Nash exit a home and enter the vehicle. Police say the two were wanted in several armed robberies at a number of businesses. "In one of the robberies they committed in September, they actually kicked one of the female customers in the head," one police officer said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
The detectives followed the vehicle to the Auto Zone near 63rd and Capitol Drive, where two other detectives observed Nash and Wilson exit the vehicle, just before 8:30 p.m. That's when police say Nash and Wilson committed an armed robbery as police officials watched.
The detectives say Nash was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood up, and a white towel covering his face. Nash and Wilson were seen shuffling employees to the back of the store, according to the complaint. "They are what we describe as take over armed robberies. They come in to the store, and they mask themselves, take out their gun and have the employees get on the floor," Milwaukee Police Captain Chad Wager said.
Around 8:20 p.m., a 911 call was made from the Auto Zone store regarding a robbery in progress. Just before 8:30 p.m., a detective observed Nash and Wilson exiting the store, with Nash carrying a black garbage can. Nash and Wilson then drove back to the area of 39th and Galena. The detectives notified uniformed police officers, contained the residence and obtained a search warrant.
The complaint says prior to the warrant being executed, Nash and Wilson exited the residence, and were taken into custody. Members of the Tactical Enforcement Unit responded, and officials say the two were taken into custody without incident.
A search of the residence revealed a .40 caliber black Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun and a .380 caliber black RPB Industry semi-automatic handgun, almost $3,000 in cash, a black garbage can containing $323 in coins, a black hooded sweatshirt, a white towel, and black and red gloves - consistent with what Nash was wearing.
Police interviewed an employee from the Auto Zone store near 63rd and Capitol, who said there were five employees and one customer in the store at the time. The employee says the employees and customer were bound with black plastic hand ties, and the suspects asked for the cash registers to be opened, and demanded money from the employees and customer - even patting down their pants pockets. The employee said one of the suspects ripped the surveillance video out before opening the safe, and dumping the money into a garbage bin they had taken from the store.
Police interviewed the customer at the store, who said the suspects took $20 in cash he had in his money clip.
Nash and Wilson will make their next court appearance on March 26th.