Two Milwaukee residents are in custody after police pieced together clues — including fingerprints and shoe prints — that allegedly tied them to a string of armed robberies throughout Wauwatosa and Milwaukee.
Markanthony MC Harris, 17, and Deshireo T. Rivers, 27, have each been charged with six counts of felony armed robbery after they held up a number of businesses and people in early May — including two incidents in Wauwatosa.
If convicted, both face up to $100,000 in fines and 40 years in prison for each charge, according to a criminal complaint.
About the incidents
The first armed robbery occurred at a Pizza Hut in Wauwatosa, around 10:40 p.m. May 4. The two males entered the store, 517 Glenview Ave., and Harris displayed a small handgun and Rivers a semi-automatic pistol, according to the complaint. Rivers demanded an employee to open a safe in the restaurant. The employee told the men the keys for the safe were in his jacket, so Harris ordered the employee to the back of the store to retrieve them. While searching for the keys, Harris touched a pack of cigarettes in the jacket. Police would later recover a fingerprint from the cigarette pack and match it to Harris, according to a criminal complaint.
After finding the keys, Harris led the employee back to the front of the store, where cash was taken from the register, according to the complaint. The two suspects left the Pizza Hut before the safe was opened.
After allegedly robbing the Pizza Hut, the suspects headed to Mobil Mart, 8806 W. North Ave., and arrived around 11:05 p.m.
The males again displayed guns to the employee in the store, and Harris jumped the counter, demanding to know where the money was kept, according to the criminal complaint. Rivers demanded a bag and cigarettes from the employee, who complied. The two suspects left the store together with money and cigarettes.
Police were able to identify a shoe print on the counter of the convenience store left when Harris jumped the counter. Police searched online and determined the shoe print was from an Adidas ZX Flux shoe. Authorities later searched Harris's house on May 10 and found a pair of shoes of that model. The shoes matched both the print left in the store and the color of shoes seen on surveillance video from the incident.
Harris admitted to committing both robberies in Wauwatosa in a statement given to detectives, and he identified Rivers as his accomplice.
Rivers and Harris also allegedly took money from a safe and cash registers at Little Caesar's Pizza, 3161 S. 76th St., Milwaukee, and took a cellphone, cash and cigarettes from people inside Scotty's Pizzeria, 9809 W. Oklahoma Ave., Milwaukee, on May 6.
On May 7, police executed a search warrant on a Jeep tied to Rivers. Authorities found the stolen cellphones in the vehicle's glove compartment and a holster for a semi-automatic pistol in the engine compartment. West Allis police had chased the Jeep when it fled from them earlier that day and, during that incident, officers were able to see Rivers was the driver, according to the criminal complaint.
Police weigh in
It's common for police departments to coordinate with one another with such crimes in order to find the suspects — especially when the incidents aren't isolated, said Lt. Brian Zalewski, public information officer with the Wauwatosa Police Department.
He said police often give the following advice to businesses and people who have been robbed:
· Be aware of suspicious people and phone calls. Sometimes suspects will call businesses with unusual questions about where money is stored, among other things, Zalewski said.
· Monitor video surveillance. While video cameras can serve as good deterrents, if they don't work properly, they're of no use to investigators when a serious incident does happen.
· If you're being robbed, cooperate with the suspect and 'do what you're told,' Zalewski said. 'You don't want to lose your life over it,' he said.
Preliminary hearings for Harris and Rivers are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 23.