Police arrest 1, search for another in armed robbery

Victims of the Saturday restaurant hold-up say they heard one gunshot.


Published: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 11:32 p.m.

Starke police arrested one man and were looking for another in connection with a Saturday night armed robbery at a restaurant on U.S. 301.

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Jerry William Simmon

Victims said they were not injured but heard one shot fired.

The robbery occurred at about 9:15 p.m. at Grannies restaurant at 367 N. Temple Ave., which is also known as U.S. 301, according Starke Police Capt. Barry Warren.

Jerry William Simmons, 24, of Starke, was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, three counts each of kidnapping and robbery, and one count each of aggravated battery, burglary and grand theft.

According to police reports, the restaurant had closed for the night and three employees were cleaning up when Warren said one employee walked out the kitchen door into the alleyway to dispose of some grease. The employee told police that he was confronted by a man he knew and a second man he did not know who put a shotgun to his head and ordered him to go back into the restaurant and get money.

An employee in the restaurant office heard a commotion in the kitchen and looked at the security monitors. He saw the suspects confronting the kitchen workers, according to Warren's report. Before the office employee could react, he was confronted by a robber wielding a shotgun who instructed him to get on the ground and not to call police. The suspect entered the office and took an undisclosed amount of money.

Employees told police that the two men fled and they heard what they believed was a gunshot shortly after the suspects left the building.

Officers found Simmons at a nearby apartment complex about two hours later and found an undisclosed amount of money with him, Warren said. Early Sunday, police said they searched the ditches and shrubs along the roadway between the restaurant and the apartments and found a sawed-off, 20-gauge shotgun.

Police also found a handgun in a duffel bag and a ski mask near where they arrested Simmons, Warren said.

"There is still a dangerous felon out there, and we need the citizens to help us," said Chief Jeff Johnson in a prepared statement.

Anyone with information about the second suspect or who may have information about the case is asked to call Starke Police Investigator James Hooper or Capt. Roman Alvarez at 904-964-5400.

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