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Published: Wednesday, 12/8/2010

2 Toledo police officers thwart robbery in progress

Talk about being in the right place at the right time.

Two Toledo police officers on routine patrol early Wednesday said they happened upon an armed robbery in progress -- and were able to nab the suspect before he could leave the store.

The officers arrested Shabboz Merrit, 18, of Brand Whitlock Homes on a charge of aggravated robbery. He was being held Wednesday in the Lucas County jail pending arraignment next Wednesday, according to sheriff's deputies.

The holdup weapon believed to be involved turned out to be a realistic-looking BB gun, according to Officer Anthony Moore, one of the two police officers involved.

Officer Moore said he and Officer Clifton Kizer, both of whom have about 11 years on the force, were passing the 7-Eleven at Western Avenue and Hawley Street about 2 a.m. when they noticed a man standing at the counter wearing a hood and possibly a mask.

"We couldn't see his face. We thought that was a little odd," Officer Moore said.

He said they had pulled into the parking lot to investigate further when they saw the man pull out a weapon and aim it at the clerk's head. Officer Moore said they radioed the dispatcher about the robbery in progress and were approaching the front door with guns drawn before the robber noticed them.

"He pulls a gun, sticks a gun in her face. He had grabbed the money and started toward the door. And that's when he looked up and saw us," Officer Moore said. He said the gunman dropped his gun after he was ordered to do so.

He said the clerk told them that the suspect asked for cigarettes and produced a credit card to pay for them. When the clerk asked for identification, he reached into a pocket and pulled out the gun, police said.

"He was just yelling at her," Officer Moore said. "She's OK. She was shaken up, naturally."

A person answering the phone at the 7-Eleven declined to comment on the incident.

Police Chief Michael Navarre said it's unusual for officers to come upon a robbery in action.

"Where they come in and actually see a gun pointed to the clerk's head, that doesn't happen very often," the chief said.

He said it was good the incident ended without injury.

Contact Tom Troy at: tomtroy@theblade.com| or 419-724-6058.

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