Police foil heist at bagel bakery

Suspect arrested in Bruegger's hits

Staff WriterFebruary 4, 2005 

In 1996, it was McMuffins and Croissan'wiches. Nine years later, police believe Derald Adion Brown II turned to bagels and lox.

But this time, it's doubtful that Brown's arrest will lead to a murder conviction and a court battle over a $50,000 reward, as it did in 1996.

Brown was charged Thursday with breaking and entering, robbery with a dangerous weapon and second-degree kidnapping in connection with an early-morning robbery of a Bruegger's Bagel Bakery in North Raleigh, according to Jim Sughrue, police spokesman. Cary police also charged him with the same crimes in connection with the robbery of a Maynard Road Bruegger's.

The arrest Thursday occurred after a pre-dawn stakeout of the Pleasant Valley shopping center on Glenwood Avenue. Raleigh police decided to watch the stores after analyzing and mapping a series of thefts involving North Raleigh dry cleaning, pastry and coffee shops, said Major Dennis Lane.

"We had been investigating a number of early-morning robberies," Lane said. "And we were concerned with a number of businesses that had developed a pattern."

In the dry cleaning robberies, most of which occurred in 2004, a man rushed employees when they arrived at work, according to police. The suspect would brandish a gun and demand entry to the store. He grabbed cash from the register and sometimes robbed bewildered employees before fleeing.

As of Thursday night, Raleigh police had not charged a suspect in connection with these crimes.

Police think Brown used a pellet gun Thursday morning to force an employee into the store at 6274 Glenwood Ave., in Pleasant Valley Promenade, before robbing the shop about 6 a.m., according to Sughrue and arrest warrants.

The suspect in a robbery of a Cary bagel shop Jan. 16 used similar tactics.

The man told the Bruegger's employee to shut off the store's alarm and forced her inside, where she unlocked the safe and he emptied it, said Capt. Dave Wulff of the Cary police. The suspect then forced the employee inside the walk-in cooler and left.

These early-morning thefts mimicked a series of robberies at Burger Kings and McDonald's to which Brown pleaded guilty in 1996, according to court records. Brown, a Shaw University student at the time, would stake out his victims and, using a handgun, force them to open the restaurants before stealing the cash.

But when Brown learned he faced more than 80 years in prison if convicted on eight robbery charges, he struck a deal.

In exchange for a reduced sentence, Brown told police about his former roommate, Vincent Tan Hall, who was an N.C. State student. The two lived in an apartment within sight of the Mission Valley Blockbuster, where store clerk Keir Lohbeck, 19, was shot to death in January 1994. The morning after the murder, Brown said, Hall confessed to Brown that he had shot Lohbeck.

In 1997, Hall was convicted in connection with Lohbeck's death, thanks in part to Brown's testimony.

When Brown tried to collect the $50,000 reward offered by Blockbuster, the video giant rebuffed him and claimed his reduced sentence, and the promise of $5,000 from the governor, was reward enough.

Brown sued and the case was settled out of court, Brown's lawyer said in a 2003 interview. As for the state's $5,000 reward, Brown never saw a penny.

(News researcher Brooke Cain contributed to this report.)

Staff writer Jennifer Brevorka can be reached at 836-4906 or jbrevork@newsobserver.com.

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