Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Fourth suspect in string of Clearwater robberies is arrested

CLEARWATER — Three men and a woman armed themselves and plotted to rob unsuspecting victims near downtown in late July, authorities said.

Within a four-hour span on July 30, the group robbed at least three different people in strong- arm robberies in spots along Cleveland and Drew streets, Clearwater police said. Police said they are suspected in three more robberies during the same time frame.

On Wednesday, Clearwater police arrested the fourth and final suspect, 21-year-old Tracy E. Dixon, who was listed in reports and jail records as having various addresses in Clearwater.

Dixon was charged with three counts of armed robbery as well as sale and possession of cocaine and Ecstasy, charges that stemmed from several instances when he sold drugs to undercover detectives in May, according to arrest reports. He was also charged with resisting arrest after, police said, he ran away when officers tried to arrest him.

Police said Dixon — along with Tavarus L. Cooper and Arthur D. White-Benjamin, both 21, and Kimberly Shawley, 20 — robbed the victims between 2 and 6 a.m.. All have been charged with armed robbery. An investigation is ongoing, police said.

The four hatched a plan to drive around "in search of easy targets to rob," according to an arrest report. In all, they made off with $430 in cash, cigarettes, cell phones, keys and at least one vehicle. One of the suspects said they split the cash and he received $100.

In at least two of the robberies, the victims were beaten with guns, though no one was seriously injured, reports show. In at least one case, Shawley distracted the victim so two of the suspects could surprise him, police said.

At least half of the victims were Hispanic, but police said they could not say for sure that the group was specifically targeting Hispanics, according to arrest reports.

Clearwater police have tried to educate Hispanic residents about the dangers of carrying large sums of money and have encouraged them to open bank accounts, which can be difficult without adequate documentation. In 2008, police said they had seen a surge in robberies of Hispanic men that seemed to correspond with the worsening economy. More recent statistics were not available Thursday.

Last summer, Clearwater police arrested a man and woman accused of targeting Hispanic men in a dozen armed robberies in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.

All four arrested in the July 30 crimes have criminal records. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Dixon was released from prison in November after serving about a year and a half for convictions of sale and possession of cocaine and failure to appear in court.

Cooper, of 110 S San Remo Ave., was released from prison in April after serving three years for convictions of grand theft motor vehicle and battery on detention facility staff.

The first arrest for White-Benjamin, of 1369 Madison Ave. S, came at age 11 for burglary, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Before he turned 18, he was also arrested on charges of disturbing the peace, sale of cocaine, robbery by sudden snatching and grand theft motor vehicle.

The dispositions of those cases were unavailable because he was a juvenile.

Shawley, listed in arrest reports as a transient from Clearwater, has previous convictions on drug charges and trespassing.

On Thursday afternoon, Dixon was being held in the Pinellas County Jail in lieu of $376,076 bail. White-Benjamin was being held on $160,000 and Cooper on $150,000. Shawley was being held without bail.

Fourth suspect in string of Clearwater robberies is arrested 08/11/11 [Last modified: Thursday, August 11, 2011 8:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics

    Elections

    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.