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Baby-Faced Robbery Suspect Arrested After Caller Sees Photo

After police release photo of armed robber in Speedway incident, a tipster recognizes suspect. According to police, he's admitted his part in the crime and given information about his accomplice.

A teenage boy has been arrested in the armed robbery Sunday evening of the Speedway gas station on North Avenue in East Tosa in which cash from a register and from a children's charity jar were stolen, according to Wauwatosa police.

Based on a tip from a caller who recognized the boy, who is thought to be 16 years old, officers found and arrested him Friday and said that after questioning, he admitted his part in the crime and implicated an accomplice. The accomplice had not been located.

The boy has already been positively identified in photo lineups by close witnesses, a Wauwatosa police spokesman said.

"All this has just been in the last couple of hours," said Lt. Gerald Witkowski of the Wauwatosa Police Department just before 6 p.m Friday. "An individual has been arrested on suspicion of armed robbery. He's either 15 or 16 years old – I believe 16. He's being conveyed to the juvenile detention center.

"We're actively looking for the accomplice."

The gas station, at 6804 W. North Ave., was robbed at 5:30 p.m. Sunday by two subjects, one of them with a pistol, police reports said. The gunman forced an attendant to kneel behind the checkout counter while he rifled the cash drawer and his accomplice grabbed cigarettes and cigars.

Before they left, the gunman grabbed the Children's Miracle Network donation jar off the counter and carried it away, too.

After the robbery story was first published Monday by Wauwatosa Patch, a number of local television stations requested any security photos or video from the robbery. The Wauwatosa police decided to release an unusually clear surveillance photo, and Patch and several broadcast outlets published it.

"I can say that (the tip) did come from media releases," Witkowski said. "An individual recognized the one in the picture, and he was identified by the witnesses from photo arrays."

Witkowski said that during questioning, the teenager refused to cooperate, but after a short time in a holding cell, "he knocked on the glass and said he was ready to talk. He admitted his part and implicated his accomplice."

Police had no information to release about the youth's alleged accomplice. The crime was committed at a time when the gas station was busy and traffic was high, and many people reported the crime in progress.

One man entered the station's storefront during the robbery; he retreated and asked a neighbor to call police. A woman was pulling in to buy gas and recognized that a robbery was taking place; she pulled around the pumps and asked another motorist to call police. Another man was just pulling in and saw what was taking place; he pulled away and called police. 

The attendant, who saw him most clearly, described the gun-wielding suspect as having a round, chubby face almost like "a cabbage-patch kid."

Fifth District Ald. Bobby Pantuso, learning of the arrest, said, "More and more, I think that bad guys are realizing there are too many eyes on the street in East Tosa. It's not a very good environment to commit a crime and get away with it."

Jim Price December 22, 2012 at 07:09 AM
Nope, you're wrong, pup – crime has been going down in Tosa, including in East Tosa, for more than 10 years. I reported last year – http://wauwatosa.patch.com/articles/lower-crime-figures-in-tosa-come-with-a-dose-of-caution ... and I suppose it's time I asked for this year's stats. If you look at it, there was a record number of robberies (like this one) in 2006 – more than twice the number the year before. Horrors! But in 2007, that same category of crime fell to exactly half the high number and has fallen further ever since. I'll agree that in any one incident, a 16-year-old could kill someone. I haven't forgotten the Milwaukee case in which a 16-year-old slew a woman in a restaurant parking lot. But this isn't Milwaukee. That didn't happen here. And it isn't happening here. Could it? Sure. But an expert police force and an alert citizenry helps keep it from happening, in East Tosa or any other part of Tosa. I ask you again, what do you want? What is it that you're after? What do you want police and citizens to do besides catch crooks? You're welcome to your opinion, here or anywhere else. I'm just stating the facts. And if watching, catching and prosecuting crooks doesn't deter them – "realizing," if you will – what exactly do you propose to stop them?
paul hruz December 22, 2012 at 01:40 PM
@Jim Price.. What I want to see is these two being locked up and made an example out of, we want the word out if you commit a crime here you will get caught and you will go to jail.
Pam from Tosa December 22, 2012 at 04:01 PM
@JimPrice and others ... what I'D like to see is criminals are too scared to come into Tosa and commit these crimes. Baring that, I'd like to see these two prosecuted to the fullest as adults and locked up. I don't like too far from the gas station. Bravo to all the customers who alerted police and to those who ID'd the kid.
Pam from Tosa December 22, 2012 at 04:03 PM
... sorry, I meant to say "I don't LIVE too far from the gas station." ... My fingers don't work too well when it's below 20 degrees! :) Merry Christmas everyone!
paul hruz December 25, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Jim Price...It's been two days since Pam and I said what we want done to these two, we're waiting to hear from you, do you want them prosecuted as adults or just slapped on the wrists and be let go.

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