Sunday, February 25, 2018
Public safety

Police believe recent robberies at 7-Eleven stores may be related

ST. PETERSBURG — Authorities believe an armed convenience store robbery that ended in a fatal officer-involved shooting earlier this week may be connected to other crime in the city.

Police Chief Chuck Harmon said the incident early Tuesday at a 7-Eleven at 62nd Avenue N and Fourth Street is similar to an Oct. 29 armed robbery at a 7-Eleven at 11590 Fourth St. N.

"There's enough similarities that we think they may be related," Harmon said Wednesday, a day after one of his undercover detectives shot and killed suspect Lamont Burgess, 36. "Right now our immediate concern is, is there anyone else out there doing these?"

Police on Wednesday released surveillance videos from both incidents. They hope someone will recognize the robbers.

Harmon said both holdups involved two masked and gloved robbers.

In the earlier holdup, police said, a handgun was used and the store clerk said there were two male suspects. In Tuesday's robbery, Burgess used a shotgun. His accomplice, a 20-year-old woman named Ebony Oliver, had a knife, police said.

They were confronted moments after the robbery by undercover detectives who were in the area on a different operation. One detective shot and killed Burgess after police said he pointed the gun at the officer.

Oliver ran and hid but was found by a police dog. She faces armed robbery and felony murder charges. A third person, thought to be a getaway driver, left the scene but has been interviewed by police. He is being considered a witness right now.

Harmon said detectives are trying to figure out if Burgess and Oliver were working with others.

Police aren't the only ones searching for answers.

Burgess' father, Larry Burgess of St. Petersburg, said he recognized his son's voice from the surveillance video. He suspects the crime was fueled by drugs and mental illness. His son has an arrest history dating back to the late 1990s, mostly for drug possession.

"I know my son," the 61-year-old said. "If they said he got arrested with a pocket full of drugs, yeah, that's something he could do. But robbery? That's just not him."

Burgess said his son tried ecstasy about a year ago and hasn't been the same since. He'd been held under the Baker Act three times in recent months. His family planned to get him more mental services help Tuesday, but he missed the appointment.

Anyone with information about the incident can call police at (727) 893-7780.

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