Charges dropped in restaurant holdup

Published July 24, 2002|Updated Sept. 3, 2005

On June 16, two men robbed a U.S. 19 McDonald's in Clearwater, one of more than a dozen heists at local fast-food restaurants last month.

Several days later police arrested Deangelo Church and Norris Brown on charges related to the Clearwater robbery. Investigators also said they were looking for a third man, Anthony Harrington, 26. All three were considered suspects in the spate of fast-food robberies.

Since then, the charges against Brown have been dropped, Harrington has not been found and no additional charges have been filed in connection with any of the holdups.

In addition, other fast-food restaurants stretching from Sarasota to Pasco counties were held up while Church and Brown, both 28, sat in the Pinellas County Jail.

The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office dropped charges of armed burglary and attempted robbery against Brown on July 15. Prosecutors couldn't go forward with the case because an important witness had become uncooperative and was no longer willing to testify, said Doug Crow, an executive assistant state attorney.

The case against Church, charged with burglary and attempted robbery, remains strong because of a police officer who witnessed the McDonald's heist.

Meanwhile, investigators continue to search for Harrington, whom police describe as armed and dangerous. Though Harrington has an outstanding warrant for a probation violation, he currently faces no charges in connection with any holdups.

"We still want to talk to him about these robberies," said St. Petersburg police Sgt. Joseph Dente.

Investigators in Tampa and St. Petersburg declined to comment on whether the three are still suspects in the string of summer robberies.

Church remained in the Pinellas County Jail Tuesday in lieu of $25,000 bail. He has a pretrial hearing scheduled for Aug. 23.

Brown, who also had a robbery charge against him dropped last year, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

To help

Anyone with information about the robberies can call St. Petersburg police Sgt. Joseph Dente at (727) 893-4114.