LAKE COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - At least four businesses were robbed at gunpoint, and investigators think it’s all by the same man.
He’s seen in multiple surveillance videos. The most recent robbery took place on Tuesday at the Dollar General on Euclid Avenue in Willoughby. Now, investigators are hoping someone may recognize the man and help stop him before he does it again.
“It appears to be the same individual that is doing a lot of these aggravated robberies,” Lake County Sheriff Frank Leonbruno said.
He added the first crime occurred last week at the Marathon gas station in Perry Township.
The clerk said the man walked in, put a gun to a female customer’s head and pushed her down on the counter. He then demanded all the cash from the register.
“I went over here to get the [woman’s lottery] ticket and when I came back he was in here with the gun to her head, wanting the money,” he said.
He said “all I thought about was getting her out of here without getting hurt,” he said. There's nothing I could do the way he used her for leverage against me.”
The clerk said he’s not surprised he popped up elsewhere. “I knew it was just a matter of time before he had to rob again,” he said.
Leonbruno said the second robbery unfolded at a Parkman BP gas station then the Chardon Dollar General was robbed on Saturday. The stickup at Dollar General took place on Tuesday night.
Sheriff Leonbruno said “it seems this individual is looking for someplace that’s not very crowded and has easy access to get away.”
At least one other time, the robber held a customer hostage before running off with the cash.
“It’s a grave concern to us because this is an individual who is brandishing a firearm and taking people hostage as he’s doing that. Certainly kidnapping them,” said Leonbruno.
Each time, he’s wearing the same outfit. Surveillance video shows him with his face covered, wearing all gray sweatpants, a gray hoodie and a mask and gloves.
Sheriff Leonbruno said in each case, the victims “did exactly the right thing. They cooperated. They gave the individual what they’re looking for.” He added “don’t try to fight them. Be cooperative.”
The Lake County Sheriff’s Department and Geauga County Sheriff’s Department are investigating, along with Willoughby and surrounding police departments.
Sheriff Leonbruno added, they’re still looking into if he acted alone, but he was seen driving off in two different vehicles. “We know here in Lake County he left the scene in a burnt orange car, so in other scenes he’s been in a silver car.”
He also described the suspect as around 6 feet tall and 200 to 230 pounds.