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Published: Saturday, 2/13/2010

2 men held in robbery, shooting of pizza driver

BY BRIDGET THARP
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The bond was set at $1 million Saturday morning for the second man accused of robbing and shooting a pizza delivery driver earlier this week.

Henry Johnson, Jr., 28, 127 West Park St., was arraigned in Toledo Municipal Court on one charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. He was ordered held in the Lucas County jail pending preliminary hearing Feb. 22, according to court records.

Mr. Johnson and Aaron McDonald, 21, whose last known address is 416 Potter St., were arrested Friday and charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon after a robbery about 9:20 p.m. Thursday at the Potter Street house.

Mr. McDonald is being held in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $1 million bond on charges of aggravated robbery, endangering children, and three counts of possession of drugs and paraphernalia.

The men were familiar with the vacant home they lured the victim to in East Toledo, police said.

McDonald, had lived at the home at 416 Potter St. several months back, Toledo police Sgt. Phil Toney said.

Though the home was empty now, "the door had been kicked in before," he said.

The men placed a pizza order to that familiar Potter Street house and when Rebecca Keasler, 21, of Oregon knocked on the door to deliver the pizza, the suspects grabbed her and dragged her inside, Sergeant Toney said.

"She fought back, and during the struggle she was shot twice, once in the abdomen, once in the back," he said.

A neighbor heard the gunshots and called 911. The assailants fled and left the pizza behind.

Ms. Keasler remained in serious condition in Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center, a hospital spokesman said.

The Keasler family declined to comment yesterday through the spokesman. Ms. Keasler's co-workers at the Marco's Pizza, 149 Main St., also declined comment.

"We are cooperating with the police investigation, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family," said Shawn Chowdhary, Marco's vice president of administration.

He declined to say how long Ms. Keasler has worked for the company.

The men charged with robbing Ms. Keasler also are suspected of assaulting and robbing another woman on the same street the same day, Sergeant Toney said.

Heather Ramasocky was assaulted, threatened with a handgun, and robbed of cash in the 500 block of Potter about 5:20 a.m. Thursday.

The men will be questioned in the other robbery, the sergeant said, but no additional charges were filed yesterday.

Mr. McDonald was arrested early Friday during an unrelated drug raid at his home on Euclid, Sergeant Toney said, adding that the child endangering charge was filed because children were in the home.

"It was just coincidence that the vice squad was doing a drug investigation into that address," Sergeant Toney said.

Court records show Mr. McDonald served a six- month sentence last year for assault for attempting physical harm to another or another's unborn.

While there are reports of pizza delivery drivers being robbed almost weekly, it is unusual that the acts become violent like this incident, Sergeant Toney said.

"There are a fair amount of pizza robberies," Sergeant Toney said. "They're an easy target."

Last month, a 59-year-old pizza delivery driver, Ronnie Dunklin, was robbed and shot in the leg in a North Toledo neighborhood.

He was driving for the Marco's Pizza at 3423 Lagrange St. when he was robbed just before 8 p.m. Jan. 27 by two suspects in the 900 block of Homer Avenue.

He was struck in the head with a pistol, but didn't realize at that time he also had been shot in the leg.

In May, a pizza delivery driver was beaten and robbed in South Toledo.

John Berry was delivering for Cottage Inn Pizza about 2:40 a.m. May 3 when he was assaulted and robbed of $25 by two men who answered an apartment door at 3950 Airport Hwy.

The safety of delivery drivers is a concern for pizza restaurants.

Al Newman, director of training for Hungry Howie's Pizza and Subs, said one of the biggest things his company does is to limit the amount of cash drivers have with them. "That's the most important thing, to make sure the amount of money they have on them is very minimum. Our goal is $20 or less," he said.

The company doesn't want drivers to be a target for theft, so making sure they don't have much cash on them helps with that, he said.

The increased popularity of credit card payments also helps, Mr. Newman said.

"We tell them to do what they say. Give them the money," he said.

"I'm concerned about the safety of my employees. That's all I'm concerned about."

Other policies used to keep drivers safe include not delivering an order without a confirmed phone number or to a house without a porch light turned on, and keeping track of areas where there have been problems.

Staff writer Meghan Gilbert-Cunningham contributed to this report.

Contact Bridget Tharp at:

btharp@theblade.com

or 419-724-6086.



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