HOPKINTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Two adults and three teenagers from Connecticut are facing charges in connection with two armed robberies in Rhode Island, and police say they were captured before they could attempt a third.
Benjamin Ibbitson and Jeffrey Wheeler both appeared in court Monday, accused of trying to rob Spicer Marketplace in Hopkinton at gunpoint on Friday evening, along with the teens. The juveniles were charged in Family Court Monday.
“Two guys came in – black hoodies red bandanas – and were telling me to give all the cash to them,” said Krystal Riske, who was working inside the store at the time. “I literally threw down the box and told them ‘no,’ to get out of my store.”
The suspects then fled the store, according to Riske. Police said they were spotted getting into a silver sedan with the three others. The vehicle had already been put out by West Warwick police as possibly connected to an armed robbery at a Cowesett Avenue nail salon Friday afternoon.
Hopkinton Police Chief David Palmer said an officer spotted the car and tried to stop it, but the driver—who police believe was Wheeler—took off. The vehicle headed into Fenner Hill Golf Course.
“Unbeknownst to them, it was a dead end,” Palmer said.
The suspects were cornered by Hopkinton, Richmond and Rhode Island State Police.
Palmer said police found crack cocaine inside the car along with evidence and cash from the West Warwick robbery.
A state police K-9 also tracked down the gun and bandanas allegedly used in the convenience store robbery, stashed behind a barn on the golf course property.
Ibbitson, 18, of New London, and Wheeler, 29, of East Lyme, were taken into custody, along with two 17-year-old boys and a 16-year-old boy.
“Their game plan was to hit another location,” Palmer added.
Riske said she was happy with how the situation turned out, with the suspects captured and no money stolen from the store.
“I’ve been called an idiot all day but at the end of the day, I was pretty happy about myself,” she said.
“It worked out well this time,” Palmer said, though he cautioned against Riske’s method for any future armed robbery victims. “We would recommend that they just comply, give them the money that they’re demanding. We feel it’d be a safer scenario.”
Palmer said while only two of the suspects entered the Spicer Marketplace and tried to rob the place, all five suspects allegedly planned the crime together and are charged with first-degree robbery.
Bail for Ibbitson and Wheeler was set at $30,000 with surety, but they won’t be released until they face charges on a warrant out of West Warwick for the nail salon robbery.
West Warwick police said the five suspects are scheduled to be arraigned for that alleged crime Tuesday in Kent County District Court. Police declined to release details about that incident until after the arraignments.