Tipster led police to suspected Raleigh ATM robber

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comOctober 21, 2013 

— Detectives searching for a man suspected of committing a series of ATM robberies and kidnappings last month were helped by a tipster who apparently knows him.

The unidentified tipster showed up at a meeting with police the day of Walter Kevin Johnson’s arrest and showed the officers items that had been reported stolen, according to a search warrant application made public Monday.

A search warrant application indicated that police seized more than 100 items from Johnson’s townhome that day, Oct. 11. The items included electronics, jewelry, cash, firearms, masks and clothing – some of which matched the physical descriptions of the person responsible for a series of ATM robberies and abductions last month.

Johnson, 28, of 6124 Braidwood Court in Raleigh has been in custody at the Wake County jail since police detained him after a traffic stop on Glenwood Avenue and charged him with a rash of armed robberies and kidnappings that began Sept. 22 and ended Sept. 27.

Wake District Court Judge Ned Mangum told Johnson that for the robbery charges alone he could spend the next 170 years in prison.

The warrants also indicate that police think that Johnson purchased a Halloween-type costume hours before he used it to attempt to rob a woman at gunpoint last month in Northwest Raleigh.

Sheriff’s deputies and Raleigh police looked at video surveillance footage obtained from the Walmart at 4431 New Bern Ave. and saw a customer purchasing a “skeleton-type mask” and other clothing “just hours” before the Sept. 27 robbery, which was reported at about 9 p.m. Raleigh police detective K.M. Norman stated in the search warrant application that the mask and clothing matched the description of the gunman in an attempted robbery at Wynneford Way, according to the warrant.

The investigators also reported that the customer who purchased the mask and clothing walked to the parking lot where he got into a light-colored Dodge Charger. Prior to Johnson’s arrest, police released to the public photos of the Walmart customer and asked for the public’s help identifying him.

On Oct. 11, someone called 911 and told a dispatcher that the person in the photos was Johnson. Police arranged an interview with the person, who turned over items taken during the Wynneford robbery attempt: a pair of sunglasses and a Samsung tablet and keyboard, according to the warrant.

The tipster also told police about other items at Johnson’s home that matched the descriptions of items taken during the robberies. The tipster told investigators that Johnson “has recently been in possession of jewelry, large amounts of U.S. currency, televisions and computers.”

“Johnson did not offer the concerned citizen a logical explanation as to how he came into possession of these items,” according to the court affidavit.

The tipster also told police Johnson drove a light-colored Dodge Charger and showed police a photo of Johnson.

“Johnson bore a strong resemblance to the video image,” Norman stated in the court affidavit.

Police took Johnson into custody around 3:30 p.m. while he was behind the wheel of a white, 2013 Dodge Charger.

“During his detention, Johnson made the spontaneous utterance, ‘You guys got me,’” Norman reported.

Among the items police seized from Johnson’s home the day of his arrest were two black motorcycle helmets with clear visors, a multicolored ski sweater with eye holes, jewelry, a bearded mask, Apple iPads, one shotgun, an air pistol and pawn slips, according to the warrant. In two of the robberies, the suspect wore a black motorcycle helmet with a full shield.

Johnson remained in custody Monday at the Wake County jail. Bail for him was set at $3.6 million.

 

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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