Two armed robbers caught within seconds of their crime - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Two armed robbers caught within seconds of their crime

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

December 19, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Two armed robbers are practically caught in the act in Albany.

The Albany Police Tactical Gang Unit was busy Thursday night on the city's east side where so many robberies have happened lately. Seconds after a laundromat was robbed, police swarmed the area and arrested an 18 and 15 year old. The teens were still in the parking lot of Miss Emily's Coin Laundry on Radium Springs Road. Now police are looking to see if they're responsible for any of the other holdups and the laundromat owner is taking steps of his own to thwart criminals.

The Tactical Gang Unit right now has a dual role within the Albany Police Department. They're working on the city's gang issue, but they're also targeting crime in specific areas of the city. Right now they're focused on the problems East Albany has with armed robberies, and last night their enforcement efforts paid off.

Police say when 18 year old Alfredo Palmer and 15 year old Darion Stewart decided to hold up the attendant at Miss Emily's Coin laundry, they had no idea Albany Police would respond so quickly. Business owner Melvin Paulk says he's impressed by the department's actions.

"Yes, the way they have reacted and caught these people," said Melvin Paulk, Miss Emily's Coin Laundry Owner.

The response came from the Albany Police Department's Tactical Gang Unit, a special division, put in place to deal with specific crime problems and trends like the recent armed robberies in East Albany.

"The goals of the unit is to have a flexible unit of officers who work different areas dependant upon crime trends so where they work, and the hours they work, are very, very flexible," said Albany Police Chief James Younger.

The unit can be moved from district to district. Unit members say once the attendant called police last night, they were already in the neighborhood.

"I hope we were able to provide the citizens in East Albany area, that area, with a sense of satisfaction to know that someone is looking out for them, we are in the area," said Officer Brian Covington, Tactical Gang Unit.

Investigators will now focus on previous crimes in that area, like the armed robberies at the Three Squares Diner and Subway. They'll put Palmer and Stewart in a line up and photo spread to determine if they're responsible for any other East Albany armed robberies. The owners at Miss Emily's say they're taking their own actions like adding surveillance cameras to keep both employees and customers safe.

"We're going to do some other stuff too which I don't want to say what all we're going to do at this time, but we're going to do some other stuff too," said Paulk.

This is the fourth arrest the unit has made in the last several weeks, they arrested a suspect wanted in connection with a motor vehicle hijacking at Westover Boulevard and Phillips. The unit also arrested the suspect involved in Sunday's armed robbery at the Krystal on Dawson Road. Both Alfredo Palmer and Darion Stewart remain in the Dougherty County Jail.

Both teens are charged with armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and even though Stewart is only 15 he's been charged as an adult.

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