Mall employees robbed of night deposit, wallet


The robbery suspect said he needed the money to pay people .

staff report

BOARDMAN — A Lockwood Boulevard man is charged with two counts each of aggravated robbery and receiving stolen property, accused of robbing mall employees at gunpoint.

John Watkins, 19, was arrested about 10:30 p.m. Monday.

Employees from Auntie Ann’s, inside the Southern Park Mall, told police they walked out of the mall with the night deposit and saw a man, later identified as Watkins, approach from behind a trash bin and point a gun at them. He took a female employee’s purse, which contained the store’s night deposit, and the male employee’s wallet, the victims said.

Watkins then patted both employees down and grabbed a bag of pretzels from the man before running away, according to the male employee. The woman called 911.

A police officer saw a man matching the robber’s description jogging across California Avenue. The officer got out of his car, drew his gun and ordered the man to stop. As the officer tried to handcuff him, Watkins tried to break free, the police report said, but was taken to the ground and handcuffed.

Police found the male employee’s wallet in Watkins’ pants pocket, the purse, pretzels and deposit bag near Tinseltown and a white hoodie and white bandanna, matching the description given by the victims, nearby. A gun was found near the outside doors of the mall.

Upon his arrest, Watkins told police he needed money to pay people so he and his girlfriend wouldn’t be killed.

A preliminary hearing for Watkins in Mahoning County Court is set for Tuesday.

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