Local News

Victims didn't report robbery, but suspect arrested a year later

AVON PARK - In most instances when a crime occurs, it's reported by the victim. But in the case of a restaurant robbery last year, one of several perpetrators told Highland County Sheriff's Office investigators about it, rather than the victims, who never filed a report, warrant documents released Friday said. Deputies arrested Joseph Keith McNeil, 21, of 207 E. Evergreen Road, Largo, on a warrant stemming from a Sept. 3, 2012, robbery of a Chinese restaurant in Avon Park, and a warrant from a Sept. 4, 2012, robbery at a Circle K in Sebring, warrant affidavits said. He was charged with two counts of robbery, kidnapping and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. The warrant affidavit said that the arrest came after another man who admitted to participating in the restaurant robbery alleged that McNeil was involved.
But until the other suspect told authorities about the restaurant robbery, investigators did not know about it, the warrant affidavit said. Although the owners of China Wok were robbed and forced into a cooler, they chose not to report it, the affidavit said. The owner told investigators that at about 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 3, 2012, two men entered the restaurant; one had a gun and another had a machete-type weapon, the warrant affidavit said. The suspects took about $200 and then forced the owner and his wife into a walk-in cooler, the owner told deputies. The owner told authorities that "he did not report the incident because no one was hurt, the subjects only got $200, and he thought that it was late and he didn't want to bother law enforcement, although he did wish to pursue charges," the report said. The other suspect also told authorities about a robbery of a Circle K on Sept. 4, 2012. The suspect told investigators that McNeil hit a store employee with a gun after the clerk did not move fast enough to get money, the affidavit said. After the suspects left the Circle K, McNeil became upset and wanted to return, an alleged accomplice told authorities. McNeil started yelling, "Oh my God, we need to go back in there, I left my prints behind," the accomplice told authorities.

jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834