WEST ALLIS -- Two people charged in connection with a robbery that happened at Paul's Jewelers in West Allis were in court Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 8.
During the preliminary hearing for Antowine Mitchell, 45, a West Allis detective testified, and a motion to dismiss the case by the defense was denied. Probable cause was found for further proceedings, and he was bound over for trial. A scheduling conference was set for Aug. 20, and he pleaded not guilty.
Steven Monroe, 53, waived his preliminary hearing. Probable cause was found for further proceedings, and he was bound over for trial. He also pleaded not guilty, and a scheduling conference was set for Aug. 20.
Mitchell is accused of pointing a gun at two employees at the store and telling them he was robbing the place. Prosecutors say Monroe later called police and identified Mitchell as the robber.
"They were zip tied with their hands behind their back with their arms, and they were also zip tied around their feet, not allowing them to move. No firearm was recovered. We received an anonymous tip from a subject that advised the offender was Antowine Mitchell," said Jason Vanderwerff, West Allis detective.
Charges are as follows:
- Armed robbery with use of force -- two counts
- Operating without consent, possessing weapon
- False imprisonment -- two counts
- Receiving stolen property -- greater than $10,000
- Possession of narcotic drugs
According to a criminal complaint, an employee told police she arrived at the store shortly before noon on June 25, and rang a security bell to gain entry to the store. At this point, she said a man wearing a gray suit and a Fedora hat approached and stood behind her. She said she asked the man whether she could help him with anything, and he said he was there to get his watch fixed.
The employee said she was let through the first door and unlocked the second security door to enter the store, and at this point, the man "put his hand on her back and directed her into the store" -- pushing her and stating "this is a robbery." She saw that the man was holding a pistol -- and he ordered her and a second employee into the office. She said the man grabbed her and pulled her toward the office, and once there, he told the two employees "don't move." The complaint says the suspect "secured their hands behind their back using zip ties." Both employees were placed face down on the ground and their ankles were zip tied, the complaint says. The suspect then asked for keys to the display cases, and the employee said she could hear them being opened. Eventually, the employee said she heard the door open. She said she and the other employee yelled for help and crawled out of the office -- hitting the "panic button." Police freed the employees, at which point one noticed her purse had been rummaged through and her wallet and car keys were missing. She eventually noticed her vehicle was missing as well.
The complaint says surveillance video showed the suspect in the suit and Fedora removing multiple jewelry items from the display cases.
The owner of Paul's Jewelers reported a total loss in excess of $200,000.
The complaint says the employee's stolen vehicle was found on July 2 -- abandoned near 99th and Ohio. She reported someone attempted to use her stolen credit card but it was declined.
On July 20, the complaint says an anonymous tip came in identifying the suspect as Antowine Mitchell. This caller said he observed a photo of the suspect on the news and "immediately recognized him." It was determined this anonymous caller was Steven Monroe.
The complaint says on July 20, police responded to Monroe's home and discovered Mitchell had overdosed. He was taken to the hospital, and was initially in critical condition.
Police found a "large diamond ring" in Mitchell's pocket, and a gold watch on a table nearby. Monroe said the ring belonged to Mitchell's fiancée, the complaint says.
Investigators were able to determine that Monroe had sold several jewelry items that were later determined to have been stolen from Paul's Jewelers.
A search warrant was executed at Monroe's home in Milwaukee, and the complaint says jewelry "consistent with items taken in the robbery" were found there, along with boxes from Paul's Jewelers. Several of the items had their tags still attached.
Monroe was arrested the next day at work. The complaint says a baggie with a gray/off-white chunky substance was found in his pocket, and it tested positive for heroin.
Mitchell was arrested at the hospital. The complaint says he admitted to committing the robbery at Paul's Jewelers -- and said he "(expletive) up." He said he "fashioned a milk carton" to look like a gun, and said he didn't want to hurt the employees. He admitted to placing the employees on the floor in the back room, and tying them up. He said that he took watches and rings, and he jumped into one of the employee's vehicles. He admitted to using a key to open the display cases to take the jewelry. He admitted to ditching the employee's vehicle in the area where it was located. He said he "felt bad" for the employees present during the robbery, the complaint says.
Monroe said Mitchell contacted him and asked to stay with him. He said they bought heroin together and used it several times. Eventually, Monroe said Mitchell asked whether he could help him pawn some jewelry, because Mitchell did not have an ID. Monroe said "he believed the jewelry was hot, but didn't ask questions." He said they sold the jewelry and used the proceeds to buy heroin.
The complaint says Monroe said when Mitchell overdosed, he called for an ambulance, and then went through the backpack Mitchell had. He said he found watches and bank cards -- and said he pawned some of the watches after Mitchell went to the hospital. He said he "knew Mitchell was known for robbing places," and once he went to the hospital, he decided to anonymously call police, because he "figured someone would eventually find out."
Vivian Anton, the owner of Paul's Jewelers said she was shocked to learn the man caught on camera inside her store nearly died from an overdose. She said she's pleased arrests were made and the suspects are facing charges.
"We are relieved because this is something that shouldn't happen to anyone else. Things happen for a reason. (The employees involved) -- they are two strong characters and they aren't going to let something like this bother them," said Anton.
Mitchell and Monroe made their initial appearances in court on Aug. 1. Cash bond was set at $30,000 for Mitchell, and a $3,000 signature bond was set for Monroe.