Third suspect sought in Durham robbery
Last week, Durham County sheriff’s deputies thought they’d captured all the suspects involved in the robbery of a Latino grocery on Wake Forest Highway.
On Wednesday, however, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office confirmed that a third suspect remained at large.
That came to light after a review of two 911 recordings by The Herald-Sun. In one of those recordings, a witness tells the emergency operator that there were three men. Only Christian Kevin Colato, 19, and Jose Luis Perez-Alejandre, 18, have been charged and remain in Durham County Jail.
“Apparently, there were three,” confirmed Deputy Paul Sherwin when asked about the 911 recording. “We’re working to ID the third suspect.”
It’s not clear when investigators realized they were dealing with more than two people involved in the robbery or whether they also reviewed the recordings.
“I don’t know when they decided there was in fact a third suspect,” Sherwin said.
Deputies say Perez-Alejandre last Wednesday night was driving a Toyota Corolla that he and Colato allegedly had carjacked from within the city limits of Durham before the grocery robbery, which then led to a brief pursuit by a witness and three law enforcement agencies. Colato was a passenger, investigators allege.
When the Corolla wrecked, causing minor injuries for the driver, Colato fled, deputies reported.
Perez-Alejandre was arrested at the scene, while Colato was captured two days later.
No third suspect was reported riding in or fleeing the vehicle, Sherwin said.
“We’re confident the third suspect was not in the getaway car with the other two,” he said. “He may have left the scene in his own car or on foot. We aren’t sure.”
In the second recording, a motorist following the stolen vehicle kept the 911 operator apprised of which way the suspects were driving and what they were doing.
“I’m behind them right now,” he said.
A car’s engine could be heard roaring in the recording.
Then the caller said: “They’re shooting at me. They’re shooting at me. They’re shooting at me.”
None of the shots hit the car or the motorist, however.
Still, the operator warned him against taking any more chances: “Sir, I’m asking you not to follow that vehicle. Go ahead and stop your vehicle. I don’t want them shooting at you.”
He complied and watched from afar as police continued the pursuit.
Perez-Alejandre remains under a $3,003,000 bond. Colato is held under a $620,000 bond.
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