AUSTIN - An Austin man has been charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon in connection to a string of six Bread Basket and Exxon robberies that occurred in 2016, police said.
Police said details emerged on Aug. 31, 2016, five days after an aggravated robbery at the Bread Basket in Kyle. Police said they received a service call for a suspicious vehicle at 3722 Ed Bluestein Blvd., in which the caller observed a male wearing all black run to a vehicle parked across the street.
The day after this call, police said another suspicious vehicle call was made from the same location, in which the caller stated they saw the same vehicle, a late-model black SUV. When police arrived, a black Ford Excursion was identified. Police made contact with the occupants, reports state, and the driver said he was a "repo man" trying to pick up a vehicle. He also reportedly said he had sent a runner to get a vehicle after being questioned about the man running.
Three days later, police said an urgent robbery call was made from an Exxon gas station at 3926 Ed Bluestein Blvd., directly across from the field where the caller reported seeing the man running. On the scene, police said surveillance video showed a tall, thin male carrying an AR-15 style rifle that the victims described as being camouflage with a reflex style electronic sight on top. Police said this description matched the video of the suspect and rifle used in a Kyle Bread Basket robbery that occurred on Aug. 26, 2016. This urged police to begin researching the Ford Excursion previously identified.
While conducting surveillance on the vehicle on Sept. 21, 2016, police were able to identify the same driver as before and observed a man matching the description of the suspect enter the front passenger seat after exiting a 7-Eleven. Believing the pair were preparing to make another robbery, police said both were detained. They were identified as Leonard Frazier, 36, and Jonathon Tran, 32.
Once questioned, Tran showed paperwork he claimed was for repossessing, however, police said both were arrested due to active warrants. Prior to towing their vehicle, police said inventory was made to denote any items of value left inside and a camouflage AR-15 rifle was discovered, as well as dark black clothing and two-way radios. At the point potential evidence was observed related to the investigation, police said inventory and the Excursion were seized as evidence pending a search warrant, which was later granted.
Police said subsequent investigation included information provided by two cooperating defendants, who stated Tran had discussed conducting surveillance at gas stations specifically without check stations and had discussed details that were consistent with robberies at an Austin Bread Basket and Exxon station.
At the time of their arrest, police said cell phones were seized from the men and search warrants were obtained to assess their data. Police said they found messages between Tran and others that appeared to show coordination prior to multiple robberies, including a recorded video of the Exxon at 3926 Ed Bluestein Blvd. time stamped on the same day as the robbery. In addition, location data placed Tran's device in the area of several other reported robberies.
Information provided by two additional cooperating defendants suggests that a male with the street name "Wolf" committed a robbery at the Seventh Street Bread Basket. Phone data from one of these defendants led police to Wolf's phone number, which was connected to social media of Justin Ware, police said. This defendant was also shown a photo lineup and identified Ware with 80 percent certainty.
The fourth cooperating defendant identified Wolf as Ware and stated he had knowledge that Ware was involved in multiple robberies at different locations and that he had been present during one of them. He was also shown a photo lineup and identified Ware with 100 percent certainty, reports state.
In addition to these tips, police said surveillance video obtained from three robberies all show a masked and gloved male suspect who is consistent with the height, weight and physical structure of Ware. Cell phone evidence also links Ware's number to conversations between co-conspirators to commit those three robberies, police said, leading them to charge Ware, 28, with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.
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