The robberies within 10 days
Three armed robberies have hit Winter Park in a span of just 10 days.
Central Florida resident Emmett Chapman was arrested earlier this afternoon after he allegedly robbed a Payless ShoeSource location at Lee Road and U.S. Highway 17-92 earlier this morning. Chapman allegedly robbed the store at around 10:30 a.m. using a toy gun to threaten employees.
Chapman was arrested shortly after at the nearby Margaret Square apartment complex off of Monroe Avenue, and has been charged with armed robbery and resisting arrest, WESH 2 News reports.
Nobody was hurt during the incident.
Police had just responded to another call on Sunday from the Ravenous Pig restaurant on Orange Avenue at around 1:36 a.m. after a suspect robbed the eatery at gunpoint.
An employee was closing up the restaurant that night when a black male wearing a black shirt, dark jeans and a dark hat stepped through the back door armed with a handgun.
The suspect held the gun against the employee’s head, ordering him to open the safe before leaving with an undisclosed amount of money.
Sgt. John Bologna of the Winter Park Police Department said such incidents are rare in the city.
“It’s really not common at all,” Bologna said. “We’re susceptible just like any other area, but it seems like we don’t get hit as much.”
The Ravenous Pig robbery wasn’t the first time a Winter Park eatery had been held up at gunpoint in recent years. The original 4 Rivers Smokehouse along Fairbanks Avenue was ransacked by two hooded men in April 2012. The suspects – one brandishing a handgun and the other a knife – burst inside the restaurant and forced employees to open the business safe.
Tolla’s Italian Restaurant off of Pennsylvania Avenue was held up as well back in 2009.
Just last week a woman was robbed at gunpoint by two suspects while walking along East New England Avenue, just east of the downtown shopping corridor of Park Avenue.
Two men approached the woman at around 11:50 p.m., with one brandishing a semi-automatic handgun. The suspects took the woman’s purse and phone before leaving the scene in a gray sedan driven by a third suspect.
The woman was not injured during the incident.
Bologna advised residents to be aware of their surroundings when walking around at night.
“People need to be paying attention to what they’re doing, especially if they’re walking alone,” Bologna said. “Don’t be looking down texting on your phone … If you see something that looks out of the ordinary, go into one of the businesses or go where there’s a lot of people standing.”
Winter Park Police believe there’s no connection between the first two robberies, Bologna said. Information regarding whether the most recent robbery at Payless was connected to either of the previous incidents was not yet available.