CLEVELAND — The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office announced that seven men, including two juveniles, have been indicted by a grand jury in connection to a violent crime spree lasting 2 months and, at least, 13 aggravated robberies in the county.
The suspects range from 17- to 22-years-old.
The charges vary from aggravated robbery, to felonious assault, to engaging in patterns of corrupt activity and several more.
Cuyahoga County’s Prosecutor Michael O’Malley, provided News 5 with surveillance video collected from several of the robberies.
O’Malley said he scans through crime reports every day, and in the fall, when he began to see aggravated robberies pop up more and more in various police department’s blotters, he had a gut feeling they were connected.
“It was happening every few days, another robbery, another robbery, another robbery, same M.O. — a group of individuals exciting a car with guns, holding people at gun point and robbing them.”
The robberies occurred in Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, Lakewood, Berea and Bedford Heights.
“It’s sad, but it’s also unique that they were this violent that they were committing, home invasions, robberies where they were shooting at victims who completely complied with their demands,” he said.
The robberies occurred mid-October through November.
One of the videos he provided to News 5 showed a particularly violent incident in Cleveland Heights.
On Oct. 19 at 12:48 a.m., the victims, 37 and 41, pulled into an apartment parking lot near Lee and Cedar roads in Cleveland Heights. Four men approached the victims’ car with guns. They proceeded to rob one victim of his personal items. After the victim fled, the group fired shots at him from their car. They then fled the scene in a stolen Kia vehicle.
Some of the other robberies the group was involved in were set up, with unknowing victims selling items off of popular resale apps like Offer Up.
“It was an organized group, who would go out and commit these violent acts,” he said. “It was critical that law enforcement took them off the streets as quickly as possible because their level of violence was increasing.”
The Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office’s Crime Strategy Unit helps the more than 60 law enforcement agencies in the county share resources.
They connected the departments in the county that reported aggravated robberies and shared evidence to put together the individuals involved in the robberies.
“Within a week of some of those first meetings and conversations this was really being put together. It is no exaggeration to say that the detectives on these cases were working day and night,” said Ryan Bokoch, the supervisor of the unit.
O’Malley’s work is just beginning when it comes to prosecuting the defendants but he believes the streets are safer because they were found.
“Had they gone on with this spree, I have no doubt that at the end that someone would’ve been severely hurt or murdered,” he said.
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