Durham Police Investigating String of Robberies, Shootings
Posted January 20, 2008 2:31 p.m. EST
Updated January 21, 2008 10:07 a.m. EST
Durham, N.C. — Several men may be responsible for more than 30 robberies – including a fatal shooting – that have targeted people of Latino descent in Durham, police said.
Since Jan. 1, a series of robberies have had several common elements, including the perpetrators' using guns to threaten Hispanic people in the parking lots of apartment complexes, usually between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m.
In several incidents, the robbers shot their victims. Most often, the perpetrators take cash, wallets and cell phones.
The number of people involved in each robbery has varied. Witnesses usually describe the robbers as black men dressed in dark clothing.
Eleven of the robberies took place between Jan. 18 and 19.
An armed robbery on Friday night took the life of Delores Benito Gomez, 48. Police believe two men dressed in black confronted Gomez on Burke Street and shot him.
Police outlined the additional robberies and shootings that happened over the weekend:
- Friday, 6:26 p.m. at 1315 Morreene Road – Two men approached two other men in a parking lot and asked them for a cigarette. The robbers then pulled out a gun and stole cash from the victims. The thieves fled in a dark Honda Accord.
- Friday, 7:10 p.m. at 2302 Lednum St. – Men armed with guns robbed a man and woman of cash and a cell phone.
- Friday, 9:16 p.m. at 2920 Chapel Hill Road – Four men used guns to threaten four other men and steal their cell phones and wallets. The robbers wore white shirts and bandannas.
- Friday, 9:59 p.m. at 4216 Garrett Road – A man sustained cuts to his face after being attacked by two men with a gun. Nothing was taken.
- Friday, 11:46 p.m. at 3205 University Drive – Several men were walking from the Town and Country convenience store. Another man approached them, demanded money. He shot a 28-year-old man in the stomach and then fled in a blue, four-door car. Witnesses described the suspect as black male, 5 feet 7 inches tall, with a thin build, a dark complexion and short dreadlocks. He was wearing baggy jeans and a black sweatshirt with white writing on the back.
- Saturday, 2:21 a.m. at 2920 Chapel Hill Road – Three men armed with guns approached three other men men walking to a vehicle in a parking lot. The gunmen ordered the victims not to move, took their wallets and then shot a 25-year-old man in the leg.
- Saturday, 7:34 a.m. at 1611 Duke University Road – Two men armed with a gun approached a man and attempted to rob him. The victim was shot in the leg as he tried to run to his apartment.
- Saturday, 5:25 p.m. at 901 Chalk Level Road – Two armed men shot a man in the torso during a robbery. A suspect was described as a black man, 6 feet tall, with a heavy build. He was wearing a black jacket and jeans. Another suspect was described as a black man, 5 feet 4 inches tall, with a thin build and a goatee.
- Saturday, 6:43 p.m. at 1611 Duke University Road – A man wearing dark clothing and armed with a gun entered an apartment and demanded money. He fled without taking anything once other people arrived at the apartment.
- Saturday, 11:12 p.m. at Colonial Apartments, 2920 Chapel Hill Road – Two men armed with a shotgun stole cash and a debit card from a man who was walking in a parking lot.
A clerk from the Town and Country convenience store talked to WRAL about the Friday night shooting of a 28-year-old man.
"He didn't want to give up his money. That is why he got shot. That is a shame, you know,” said the store clerk who didn't want to give his name.
Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez issued a Spanish-language statement Sunday, saying Hispanics should not be afraid to talk to police about the robberies.
"If you become the victim of a robbery ... the police are going to investigate your assault," Lopez's statement read. "We are interested in those who are committing robberies, not in your immigration status. The Hispanic community needs to work with the police in order to end these crimes against us."
Anyone with information about the robberies or the shootings was asked to call Crime Stoppers at 919-683-1200. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests and callers never have to identify themselves.
Police also offered some tips to protect yourself from robbery:
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you see anything suspicious, do not hesitate to call 911.
- Have your keys ready when you approach your apartment or vehicle.
- Do not carry extra cash or valuables.
- Do not walk alone at night. Darkness gives robbers an advantage.
- If someone follows you, do not drive home. Go to a well-lit place and report it.
- Avoid loiterers or people hanging out in groups.
- Walk briskly and with confidence.
- Park in a well-lit area of the apartment complex.
- Do not let strangers inside your apartment. Use your peephole to see who is at the door.