A man robbed a Lexington grocery store at gunpoint Wednesday morning and was arrested several hours later — after the store's owner and his nephew tracked him down and tried to force him into their Lexus, according to Lexington police and the nephew, Zach Reifinger.
Before the day was out, Deerie Harris, 19, had confessed to the crime and was helping police find the gun he had thrown away, police Lt. Richard Bottoms said. Harris was charged with first degree-robbery, trafficking in a controlled substance and possession of marijuana, police said.
The events began unfolding about 11:25 a.m., when police were called to a robbery at the E-Z Stop at 833 Georgetown Street. An armed robber had taken money from two cash registers and fled on foot, Bottoms said.
The clerk was Reifinger's mother, Deborah Mesmar.
"She was really shooken up. When he walked in, he cocked the gun," said Reifinger, 20, who also works at the store.
Police arrived, reviewed surveillance videotape and then left, Reifinger said. His uncle, Leo Mesmar, recognized the suspect as a frequent customer, he said.
After eating lunch, Leo Mesmar, Reifinger and a German shepherd that the family uses as a guard dog went out to find Harris.
At 2:10 p.m., police received a report of a possible abduction in progress at 844 Charles Avenue.
Reifinger said he and his uncle almost had Harris in their car when Harris' father pushed Leo Mesmar, and Harris ran inside.
"His dad called the cops on us and said we were trying to abduct his son," Reifinger said.
Reifinger said he and his uncle planned to either hold Harris until police arrived or take him to the store and wait for authorities.
Reifinger and Leo Mesmar were not arrested.
But, said Bottoms, "We discussed how ill-advised it was for them to do that on their own."
Bottoms said a search of the suspect's home turned up $614 in cash, cocaine and marijuana.