Hialeah police say they have put a stop to a months-long armed-robbery spree after nabbing a man wanted for hitting nearly two dozen gas station convenience stores, check cashing stores and other businesses across Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
“We took this guy off the street before he did anything more violent,” said Hialeah Lt. Eddie Rodriguez. “We know he was armed and we knew he was violent and usually situations like this tend to get worse.”
Damon Woodard II, 26, faces charges including armed robbery and resisting arrest, records show. He was being held at Miami-Dade’s Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center with no bond Monday night.
Police say he is likely responsible for 24 robberies in Miami-Dade and Broward, four of which happened in Hialeah. Police believe they date back to August.
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“Not only the residents of Hialeah, but the residents of Miami-Dade and Broward can sleep more comfortably knowing this guy is off the streets,” Rodriguez said.
According to police, Woodard entered the Check Advance store, 2750 W. 68th St. in Hialeah, just after 2 p.m. Saturday wearing a black mask. He jumped the counter, pulled out a gun, pointed it at the clerk and demanded money, police said.
The clerk handed over the money from the registers, but then Woodard demanded the clerk open three different safes, according to Woodard’s arrest report. Police say through “investigative means” detectives identified Suwayne Hylton as a person of interest in the robbery. Hylton was being held in jail Monday on no bond.
Hylton “voluntarily” went to the police station for questioning, police said.
“Co-defendant Hylton provided a full taped confession with his involvement in the armed robbery,” an officer wrote in Woodard’s arrest report. “Furthermore, co-defendant Hylton implicated defendant Woodard as the masked gunman in the armed robbery.”
Woodard was then arrested late Saturday night, police said — but not without a fight. After being handcuffed behind his back, Woodard managed to break free from an officer and began “running at a full sprint” in the middle of the road, an officer wrote in the arrest report for additional escape charges.
“Still handcuffed, the defendant jumped a fence that was approximately four feet high, head first,” an officer wrote. He suffered scratches and swelling to the right side of his face, police said.
After Woodard was taken into custody, Hialeah detectives say they linked him to three other robberies in the city. After being read his rights, Woodard “provided a full taped confession with his involvement in the robbery,” police said.
The first robbery that took place in the city was Dec. 29 at the Shell Gas Station, 6495 W. Fourth Ave. Police say a man walked in, pretended to be a paying customer and then pulled out a gun and demanded money when he reached the register. He left with an undisclosed amount.
Then 25 minutes later, police say, the same man entered the Speedway gas station at 955 East 49th St., and ordered the cashier at gunpoint to turn over the money from the register.
After a short break, the robber hit another Hialeah store, police said. On Jan. 12, the same man walked into Advance America, 1905 West 35th St. and ordered the clerk to hand over the money, again pointing a gun. Police said this time the man pistol whipped the victim “for no apparent reason.”
Hialeah detectives began working with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other agencies in Miami-Dade and Broward after it became clear that many of the robberies seemed similar, Rodriguez said.
“We credit the tenacity of our detectives,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said Woodard could face additional charges as more departments across Miami-Dade and Broward interview him.
ATF, which announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the robber’s arrest, took to Twitter Monday to announce that their man had been captured.
“You can run, but you cannot hide,” the agency tweeted. “ATF will aggressively pursue those who use firearms in the furtherance of acts of violence. #Captured.”