Two Omaha, Neb., men facing charges in federal court went on a tri-state armed robbery spree in April, hitting at least three metro-east towns before they were finally arrested in Missouri, according to police.
Allen McCray, 19, and Victor Linton, 23, were accused this week of robbing a MotoMart in O’Fallon, a Circle K in Troy, a Casey’s General Store in Maryville and the Prime Sole shoe store in Effingham in the span of a week and a half in mid-April.
McCray and Linton traveled in a Hyundai Santa Fe to rob stores in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri between April 12 and 21, according to a charging document filed in the federal court in East St. Louis.
Hiding their faces and hair, McCray and Linton used a semi-automatic pistol to threaten employees into handing over money, then shared the proceeds and sometimes used the money to buy ammunition, food and clothing, according to the document. At the shoe store in Effingham, the men shot at but missed an employee and stole $300 worth of merchandise, The Effingham Daily News reported.
Police in the targeted communities launched a search for the suspects. The robbery spree finally ended April 21 near Kansas City, Mo., in Higginsville, where the two men were arrested and charged with shooting an employee.
When the suspects robbed the Troy store, area police were already on the lookout for three suspects wanted in connection with the O’Fallon robbery, said Troy Police Chief Brad Parsons.
“As we’re working (the Troy robbery), Maryville had one,” Parsons said. “At that point, we weren’t sure, but we knew we had to look at it as three connected events.”
The three metro-east robberies happened April 15 within a matter of hours, Parsons said, requiring local police to respond quickly to connect the dots.
“We started the legwork, processed the scene and started piecing it together,” Parsons said. “Then the feds got involved, and we were able to focus the investigation.”
Troy detectives Mike Raymond and Tony Luther helped to collect and analyze video surveillance footage and images of the suspect, Parsons said.
“At the same time while our detectives are pulling video, O’Fallon and Maryville are pulling videos and cross-referencing descriptions to verify it wasn’t just three random armed robberies on the same night,” Parsons said. “All that takes times. It looks a lot easier on television than it is in real life. It was a coordinated effort between the departments.”
The third suspect in the robberies was not charged in the federal court case. It was unclear as of Thursday if he will be charged.
There also were robberies at convenience stores reported in the same time period in Swansea and St. Louis County, though the two men were not charged in connection with those robberies.
An FBI spokesman could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The FBI, Illinois State Police, Missouri Highway Patrol, and police departments in Maryville, O’Fallon, Troy and Effingham continue an investigation into the robberies.