Deputies: Botched armed robbery could be gang initiation

Three suspects arrested

Deputies: Botched armed robbery could be gang initiation (Reporter: Amanda Brannon)

Three armed robbers targeted a Pitt County convenience store as part of a gang initiation, deputies said. But the heist went wrong when one of the suspects wore his scarf too high on his face, blocking his vision and allowing the store clerk to fend him off, investigators said.

Calvin Allen, 19, of Farmville, Malik Gorham, 19, of Farmville, and Darrius Ward, 18, of Greenville, were each in jail on a $100,000 bond, charged with attempted armed robbery. The three suspects allegedly used a shotgun to try to rob the Joyners Store, located off Highway 258 at Stantonsburg Road Tuesday afternoon, said Capt. Paula Dance of the Pitt County Sheriff's Office. Deputies got the call at about 2 p.m.

The three suspects allegedly hit the store while the owner's wife was working, Capt. Dance said. But one of the suspects, in an effort to disguise himself, wore his scarf too high on his face, covering his eyes. This allowed the store clerk to beat the suspect over the head, forcing him to run out and come back with the other suspects, Sheriff Neil Elks said.

"So, um, we're dealing with somebody who don't have a lot of experience with robbing thank goodness," Sheriff Elks said.

Deputies tracked down the suspects an hour later. They used dogs to track down the shotgun the suspects used in the crime.

"We're glad that we're able to get them at this point. If this robbery had been successful and it truly had been a gang initiation. Well, then their confidence level would have been up and they probably would have tried something the next day or so," Sheriff Elks said.

The store clerk was not hurt, but she was taken to a hospital because she was shake up, Capt. Dance said. The clerk had since been released and was back at work on Wednesday.

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