Bible study group robbed at gunpoint; 4 suspects arrested after standoff

Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 9:48 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 9:48 a.m.

At first, the victims of a home-invasion robbery — 16 college students gathered for a Wednesday evening of Bible study — thought it was a prank when two men with bandannas over their faces burst in with guns.

But they soon realized the home-invasion robbery at the apartment of two brothers, a University of Florida medical student and a UF fine arts student, was real.

The incident ended hours later when three men and a woman were arrested after a standoff with police.

As the robbery unfolded just before 9 p.m. Wednesday in an apartment on Southwest 34th Street, the victims said they were frightened but that everyone stayed calm.

"We were just having the Bible study and all of a sudden we see them come in. Initially we thought it was a joke, some sort of a prank. But when they threw one of our members to the ground, we knew it wasn't," said the older brother, who did not want his name published out of safety concerns.

"They had bandannas on. It was pretty surreal, with the quickness. It was probably 90 seconds or two minutes."

The robbery occurred about 8:57 p.m. at the Stoneridge apartment complex at 3800 SW 34th St. when a group of students of Korean and Chinese descent was having a regular Bible study.

The front door was open for more visitors when two men with guns walked in and stole laptop computers, purses, wallets, a camera and other items, Gainesville police detective Martin Honeycutt said Thursday.

"They were looking for somebody to rob and heard the laughter coming from one of the apartments and looked in through the sliding glass door to see if they were easy targets," Honeycutt said.

A short time later, a resident of the nearby Gateway at Glades apartment complex at 3415 SW 39th Blvd. saw several people in a white Ford Mustang pull into the parking lot, one still wearing a bandana on his face, and run to a third-floor apartment, Cpl. Angelina Valuri said.

They were carrying computers and other items, she said.

The witness reported the incident to police. Specialty units including the SWAT team were called, Valuri said.

People inside the apartment did not come out when police commanded them to. They eventually came out without incident at about 2:53 a.m. Thursday, Honeycutt said.

Marcus Brantley, 21, of Gainesville; Martin Luc Cadet, 23, of Winter Garden; and Larance Scott, 21, of Winter Garden were arrested on charges of home-invasion robbery and false imprisonment. One of the three men remained in a waiting car during the robbery, police said.

Cherrion Williams, 18, of Orlando was in the car with the men during the robbery and was booked on a warrant for a crime in Orange County, police said. Also in the car was the baby of Williams and Scott, police said.

At the scene of the robbery, one of the brothers who resides at the apartment was asleep in his room throughout the incident. He said his computer, which holds his art portfolio and documents, was taken.

Several of the students were about to travel to Belize on a mission trip and are concerned about getting their identification and money back.

The two brothers said no one was hurt in the robbery. Their minister from Center Point Christian Fellowship came over and the group had a discussion about the incident, one of the brothers said.

"We were all safe bodily and that was the most important. Nothing that could be taken away from us spiritually was taken," the older brother said. "It is important to forgive, but at the same time you have to find the balance between justice and forgiveness. It will be very important for our hearts to heal and to be able to forgive."

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