Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Group behind 7-11 heists known

MANILA, Philippines - A group believed to be behind a series of convenience store robberies in Metro Manila and Southern Luzon was identified yesterday by authorities as responsible for Sunday’s heist at a 7-11 store in Malate, Manila that left an American dead. Chief Inspector Joey de Ocampo, Manila Police District (MPD) homicide chief, told The STAR that they have already identified the men, based on the closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage taken when they robbed the Leveriza branch of the same store last Aug. 20 and the accounts of the store’s staff and other witnesses in the Sept. 2 heist. “We are now looking at the same people who had been victimizing several convenience stores for the past two years. We’re talking here of at least six to eight people and their area of operation covers up to Batangas and Cavite,” De Ocampo said. The police official said he received a call from a concerned citizen early yesterday morning identifying one of the suspects from a video still published in The STAR yesterday and the footage shown on television. “The (caller) told us where to find the man, his job, and other important details that could lead us to him,” De Ocampo said. He said the slugs recovered in the Leveriza heist and the shooting of Armstrong were identical and the modus operandi was the same. Three men entered the 7-11 franchise at the corner of Pablo Ocampo and F. B. Harrison streets in Malate at past 2 p.m. on Sunday and pretended to be customers before announcing the heist. Another man stayed outside and served as a lookout. The store is a few minutes away from the MPD Station 9. Robert Armstrong, 45, was buying a bottle of water when the robbers struck. He ran out of the store but was shot in the buttocks by one of the robbers. He managed to get into his car but the robbers followed him and shot him repeatedly. Armstrong suffered five gunshot wounds and was declared dead on arrival at the San Juan de Dios Hospital at around 2:25 p.m. He was the general manager of General Testing in English Language Proficiency, whose offices are located at the Legazpi Tower on Roxas Boulevard. Senior Police Officer 1 Alonzo Layugan believes the same group also robbed the 7-11 Leveriza branch on Aug. 20 and another branch, also last month. He said that three of the robbers initially pretended to be customers while another stayed outside and acted as a lookout.After taking P30,000 from the cashier as well as several items and packs of cigarettes, the robbers fled on two motorcycles toward Gil Puyat Avenue. Layugan said they are checking the CCTV footage of the two 7-11 branches to determine whether the same group was behind the successive heists. - By Rey Galupo