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By BRIAN HAWKINS
Three have been charged with armed robbery in connection with the Sunday night holdup of a west Starkville convenience store, and more arrests are likely, Police Department detectives say.
The New Lite Grocery/Shell convenience store at 1218 Highway 12 West at New Light Road was robbed at gunpoint shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday.
Charged with armed robbery in the incident are:
â€˘ Henry Lee Neal, 19, of 114 Northside Drive, Starkville.
â€˘ Derrick Lewis Hill, 15, of 104 E. Garrard Road, Apt. 26, Starkville.
â€˘ Darius Lee Kennard Hill, 16, also of 104 E. Garrard Road, Apt. 26, Starkville.
All three made initial appearances before Municipal Court Judge Rodney Faver early Monday night. Faver set Nealâ€™s bond at $100,000 and the bonds for Derrick Hill and Darius Hill at $75,000 apiece.
Though Derrick Hill and Darius Hill are both juveniles, they are being charged as adult offenders because of the use of a weapon â€” a shotgun â€” in the robbery, police said.
Armed robbery is considered a capital offense under state law and one of the crimes for which juvenile offenders may be charged as adults.
SPD detectives say more arrests may be pending in connection with the case.
At 7:54 p.m. Sunday, SPD officers were notified by E-911 operators of an armed robbery in progress at the New Lite Grocery.
According to police reports, two suspects entered the store armed with a shotgun while customers were inside. Both were black males who attempted to cover their faces by wearing garbage bags over their heads, police say.
The suspects demanded money from the cashiers and took what police say was an â€śundeterminedâ€ť amount of cash before fleeing the store on foot to a white getaway car parked nearby, eyewitnesses told police.
The suspect carrying the shotgun was described as a black male wearing blue jeans and a white hooded shirt. The other suspect â€” the one who grabbed the money from the storeâ€™s cash registers â€” was a described as a black male with a heavier build and wearing darker clothing.
Acting on information provided by eyewitnesses to the robbery, responding SPD patrol officers quickly searched the immediate area around the store and located the white car the witnesses said on Chisholm Drive in Sunset Subdivision and stopped to conduct a field interview with the owner, said SPD detectives on Monday.
Officer soon discovered two others laying in the back seat of the white car in an attempt to hide from them. When police officers went to get the two out of the car, one of them and the carâ€™s owner tried to run away, but were apprehended by the officers after a short foot chase.
Police did confirm they are investigating whether the suspects may also be the same ones responsible for the Nov. 27 afternoon robbery of the Down the Hatch Deli/BP convenience store on Russell Street.
The suspects in that case have a similar description to those in Sundayâ€™s robbery at New Lite Grocery, based upon descriptions previously made public.
Anyone with information about the robbery is encouraged to call Garnett at the Police Department at 323-4131 or Golden Triangle Crime Stoppers at 1-800-530-7151.
All Crime Stoppers tips are confidential and could result in a reward of up to $1,000 for the caller if the tip leads to an arrest in this case or any felony crime.