Four suspects are in custody after more than nine months of investigation following a robbery of Coolidge Wal-Mart that was a $70,000 heist.
The incident occurred Dec. 11 and suspects were taken into custody Sept. 20, believed to be responsible for the robbery, according to the Coolidge Police Department.
Booked into jail were Aaron L. Sharpe, 40, of Laveen, Nathaniel M. Hearn, 30, of Gilbert, Efrain Hernandez III, 33, of Mesa and his brother Eric Hernandez, 29, of Mesa.
Efrain was a former employee of the San Tan Valley Wal-Mart, located at the corner of Hunt Highway and Gary Rd., but was working a temporary assignment at the Coolidge location, where he had been for approximately one month.
“This has been an excellent investigation and a model of team-work between agencies. The Pinal County Attorney’s Office investigatory assistance has been invaluable to the success of this case,” Coolidge Police Chief Joe Brugman wrote in an e-mail.
During the early morning hours of Dec. 11, around 4:30 a.m., a suspect entered the Coolidge Wal-Mart. Upon entering he selected a shopping cart and continued to walk around the store placing various merchandise in the cart. During that time the individual placed a duffle bag in the shopping cart, which was later used to store the stolen money taken during the robbery, reports indicate.
Police reports further state the suspect appeared to be conscious of security camera locations, avoided specific aisles and remained in the area of the store’s back office area. Then, just before 5 a.m. the suspect entered that area, placing the duffle bag in the manager’s office across from the secured cash room and then left the immediate area.
The suspect then returned to the area approximately 15 minutes later and re-entered the area and then the manager’s office, where he remained for two hours.
At around 7:15 a.m., as a clerk returned from break and entered the secured cash room, the suspect followed and pointed a gun at the victim. According to reports the suspect appeared to be familiar with store operations and the back office area, including protocol with the safe. The suspect took money from the safe, counter top and shelves and then placed it in the duffle bag. He ordered the victim to the floor and then tied her arms behind her back.
The suspect fled from the rear of the store with the duffle bag full of money and got into a get-away vehicle driven by another suspect. The initial suspect was also witnessed making frequent phone calls while in the store and prior to exiting.
Following interviews with employees and upon viewing prior surveillance video, the subject believed to be the robber on Dec. 11 was discovered in other film surveying the store and surrounding area on Dec. 2 around midnight, according to the PD
The investigation is ongoing.
For their dedication and assistance with the investigation and arrest of the four suspects, the Coolidge Police Department wishes to sincerely thank the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, the Gilbert Police Department, the U.S. Marshalls Service (East Valley Violent Offender Task Force), and the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, Chief Brugman added.