Last Modified: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 2:30 PM
A car chase through the streets of Lake Charles Monday resulted in the apprehension of a man authorities said is a suspect in 15 armed robberies in the area.
Javon Keith Kennerson, 29, 2504 Ernest St., was arrested after crashing a van at the corner of Prien Lake Road and Lake Street, Police Chief Don Dixon said at a news conference Monday evening.
Kennerson was arrested in connection with an armed robbery of a convenience store in the 3800 block of Ryan Street Monday afternoon and is considered a suspect in 14 similar robberies, Dixon said.
Kennerson has been charged with two counts of armed robbery and firearm theft. No bond was set.
“The investigation is continuing and I feel quite confident we’ll be able to tie all of them to him,” Dixon said.
Kennerson had “loosely” been under police surveillance since July 18 as a suspect in armed robberies of local businesses, Dixon said.
“Obviously, we had several suspects, but he’s the one who kind of came to our attention,” Dixon said.
Dixon said police had noticed patterns and were working with local businesses to try to catch the robber.
When an armed robbery was reported on Ryan Street at 2:43 p.m. Monday, the description and pattern reported matched that of the “serial robber” police were looking for, Dixon said.
Dixon said Kennerson left the business in a stolen vehicle, then switched to a stashed panel van on West School Street.
Dixon would not say to whom the van belonged.
The van was spotted on Ryan Street about an hour later and a high-speed chase ensued, until the corner of Prien Lake and Lake, where Kennerson wrecked the van into a pole, Dixon said.
He said Kennerson left the vehicle on foot before being apprehended.
No one was hurt in the chase or in any of the robberies, Dixon said.
Police were in the process of conducting search warrants looking for a weapon and investigating whether there are accomplices, Dixon said.
The 15 armed robberies date to October, November and December of last year, Dixon said.
When the Subway on Ryan Street was hit on May 16 and again a week later, authorities began to notice a pattern, the police chief said.
He said the suspect in the robberies wore a mask and was armed with a 10-inch revolver.
Dixon showed a photo of one of the robberies, which occurred on the corner of Lake and McNeese streets on June 8.
“The hammer is cocked, the finger is on the trigger,” Dixon said. “It doesn’t get any more dangerous than that. We realized we had a very intense situation.”
The robber was sticking to pattern of nine days between robberies, then 12 days, Dixon said.
Most of the robberies happened between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.
Police worked with local businesses, installing extra cameras into locations they believed he would hit, Dixon said.
He said authorities spent hours reviewing videos of past robberies, searching for common elements.
He said for 16 consecutive nights, through Sunday night, officers and SWAT teams lay in wait for the robber to strike again.
Based on his pattern, detectives believed the robber would strike again July 15, the police chief said. Fifty-one officers lay in wait that night, surveilling stores; the robber did strike, but in Sulphur, Dixon said.
“We had a lot of guys literally laying in the rain, watching these stores,” Kraus said. “We even had one time when a snake went by and kind of scared one of the officers.
Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach commended the police department for their work.
“This community is a safer place because of what you have been doing the past several days,” Roach said. “I say that not because you caught somebody, I say that because you were willing to do what you had to do in order to catch somebody.”
Kennerson was arrested on armed robbery charges in 2002 and pleaded guilty to an amended charge of simple robbery in 2004. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Kennerson has also previously been convicted of possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.
Kennerson spent three days in Calcasieu Correctional Center in May after he was arrested for driving with a suspended license.