Broward County

Police: Cross-dressers use pepper spray in robbery

Police arrested four men, including two who were dressed as women, at a Home Depot on Wednesday after they used pepper spray on store employees and customers during a robbery, authorities said.

Three of the four were accused of stealing tool batteries at the home improvement store on 1500 SW Eighth Street and were confronted by security officers just before 1 p.m., said police spokeswoman Stephanie Slater.

"A purse full of batteries" was among some of the items recovered before the suspects fled the store, according to Slater.

The suspects were identified as Kendal Edgar Lowry, 26, of Opa-locka; David Tucker, 24, of Miami; Jeffrey G. Baldwin, 37, of Miami; and Carlton A. Mitchell, 19, of North Miami Beach.

Lowry wore a yellow tank top, gray pants and mid-calf gray boots while Tucker wore a pink shirt, denim skirt and flip-flops during the robbery, Slater said.

Lowry and Tucker were charged with robbery with a weapon; aggravated battery with a weapon; and aggravated battery on a person over 65.

Tucker is facing an additional charge of possession of an anti-shoplifting device. Baldwin was charged with robbery with a weapon but charges against Mitchell were dropped when investigators later determined he played no role in the robbery, authorities said.

"One of the loss prevention officers who was treated at the scene told us that he was sprayed heavily with pepper spray," Slater said. "In fact, one of the suspects even hit him over the head with the canister."

Six employees and customers in the area were overcome by the pepper spray, she said.

"One older woman apparently passed out from being affected by the fumes," Slater said.

The elderly woman was among four people taken to Bethesda Memorial Hospital for treatment, she said, while two others were treated at the scene.

Dozens of people were evacuated from the Home Depot.

"We do have a safety plan that was implemented by the store and it worked very well," said Home Depot district operations manager Keith Marchesani. "They did follow our standard operating procedures and thank goodness everybody was safe."

The suspects tried to flee in a red Ford Explorer, but a police sergeant stopped the SUV and arrested them before they could leave the parking lot, Slater said.

Detectives say they are checking to see if anyone in this group has been involved in other crimes.

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