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Four charged in restaurant robberies

By MIKE SAEWITZ

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- Four men arrested outside a Burger King early Friday are suspects in a string of restaurant armed robberies, police said.

The men were charged in connection with a Friday morning armed robbery at Burger King, 3701 34th St. N, and the March 25 robbery of PoFolks, 2101 34th St. N, said St. Petersburg police Detective Carl Watts.

Arrested and charged were Larry D. Burns, 17; Edward J. Chestnut Jr., 17; Isaiah A. Cooper, 18; and Qareeb S. Muhammad, 27.

Cooper, of 1411 14th St. S, is being held in Pinellas County Jail on $200,000 bail. Muhammad, of 260 20th Ave. S, is being held on $50,000 bail. Chestnut, of 4320 Fifth Ave. S, and Burns, of 2301 Dartmouth Ave. N, were taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

Watts said the four men also are suspects in the mid-March robbery of Subway, 6191 66th St. N; a March 27 robbery at Wendy's, 1115 34th St. N; and several other restaurant robberies.

Police met Burns, armed with a handgun, and Cooper, armed with a rifle, as they exited Burger King about 1 a.m., Watts said. The two ran in opposite directions, and police dogs detained them less than a block away.

Chestnut was waiting outside but left to pick up Muhammad when police came, Watts said.

"They were going to come back to help look for the guys," Watts said. "Muhammad had nothing to do with the Burger King robbery. If he would have stayed at home, he would not have been arrested."

Burns and Cooper waited for an employee to open the back door after the restaurant closed, Watts said.

According to police reports, they threatened to kill the manager. They then locked the manager and another employee in a freezer, where the employees set off a silent alarm. Police recovered $2,600 from Burns and Cooper, according to reports.

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