Two Teens Arrested in Downtown Armed Robbery

LPD carTwo teens were arrested early today in one of two armed robberies that have led to increased patrols in downtown Lakeland, the Lakeland Police Department announced.

Lakeland residents Dejuan Armstrong, 18, and Kejuan Harris, 17, admitted to police that they used a BB gun when they stole a purse from a woman they approached at a parking lot at Tennessee Avenue and Lemon Street just before midnight on Oct. 17, according to an LPD news release.

Police arrested the pair during a traffic stop on Parker Street early this morning after officers saw them break into a vehicle outside city limits, the news release said. The LPD officers were using an unmarked car and notified the Polk County Sheriff’s Office of the car burglary, LPD spokesman Gary Gross said.

Police said the purse stolen Oct. 17 was in the trunk of the suspects’ car and two firearms were found in the vehicle.

Downtown business owners have been concerned about the Oct. 17 incident as well as another late-night armed robbery in an alley behind Fresco’s on Sept. 15. As a result, LPD has increased after-hours patrols downtown and Police Chief Larry Giddens will meet with business owners Tuesday morning.

The meeting is still scheduled, according to Julie Townsend of the Lakeland Downtown Development Authority.

Police don’t think there’s a connection between the two late-night armed robberies and are continuing to investigate the September incident, Gross said.

The Oct. 17 incident involved three women who had just left Mojo Federal Swine & Spirits when two teens came up, their faces covered by dark T-shirts. A woman who police identified only by her last name — Jenkins — was hit on the back of the head and face until she fell to the ground. One of the assailants grabbed her purse and the two ran away. The two other women were not injured.

Within 10 minutes, one of the credit cards from the stolen purse was used at a Circle K convenience store at Florida Avenue and North 10th Street, police said. And 10 minutes after that, $500 was transferred into an account belonging to suspect Armstrong, they said.

The next day, a suspect tried to use another credit card from the purse at a Sunoco station on Reynolds Road, according to police.

Armstrong was charged with armed robbery, fraudulent use of a credit card and destruction of evidence.
Harris was charged with armed robbery, fraudulent use of a credit card, dealing in stolen property, possession of a firearm and destruction of evidence.