FBI: 3 suspects named in jewelry store robbery, 1 wrote apology letter to injured security guard


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Three suspects have been named by the FBI in a May 7 robbery and shooting at a jewelry store on Burnet Road in north Austin. Officials say at least nine employees and two customers were in the store at the time.

According to an arrest affidavit, the three suspects accused of robbing Korman Fine Jewelers are:

  • Darius Limar Sonnier
  • Wallace Daiveon Charles
  • Tye Joseph-Phillip Gobert

The suspects face federal charges of interfering with commerce by robbery and conspiracy, using/carrying/discharging a firearm in relation to a violent crime and conspiracy to use/carry a firearm in relation to a violent crime.

“Thank God we have the response we received. That really made a difference.” Korman’s owner Larry Stokes said. “Between APD, the FBI, the community … the response couldn’t have been better.”

The affidavit says a witness account, later confirmed by security footage, showed “at least five” people next to a silver 4-door Chevrolet Cruze in the parking lot before the robbery. The witness told authorities they saw the people go in the store, then heard loud noises that could have been gunshots, and two of the people ran back to the car and drove off. The other three left on foot, and then police ran after them.

Police took three suspects into custody shortly afterward. The car was found in the 1400 block of West North Loop Boulevard, and a K-9 trained in firearm detection gave an alert that someone who had fired a gun had touched, or was in, the car at some point, the affidavit says.

According to the affidavit, when interviewed by the FBI, Sonnier admitted to shooting the security guard at Korman during the alleged robbery, but also said he “did not mean to shoot anybody.” The affidavit also says when Austin police officers took him into custody, they found his and the security guard’s gun on him, and Sonnier also asked spontaneously, “Is everyone OK?”

The affidavit says Sonnier wrote the security guard a letter of apology. The security guard suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen and was rushed to a hospital. After surgery, the security guard is recovering, the affidavit says.

The affidavit says Sonnier also admitted to driving to Austin from Houston with five other people to rob the store. Sonnier told investigators his job was to keep a gun pointed at people in the store to keep them on the ground.

Once he saw the security guard reach for his gun, he walked over to him and hit the guard in the head after being instructed by another suspect to do so, the affidavit says. The gun went off when the guard was struck, the affidavit says.

The affidavit says during the robbery, an employee said she saw one of the suspects point a gun at the security guard, fire a shot and then saw the guard reach for his side. Then another suspect went up to her and hit her in the back of the head with a gun, the affidavit says.

Charles was found close to the car, “drenched in sweat and had no logical explanation for being in the area” after police saw him in the middle of the street “acting suspiciously,” the affidavit says.

He admitted to investigators that he smashed glass cases containing Rolex watches with a hammer, the affidavit says. In order to conceal clothing he wore during the robbery, Charles put on another pair of pants and shirt he found in a yard sometime between the robbery and being apprehended, the affidavit says.

Investigators had him take off the pants, and underneath them were green and red pants investigators recognized from surveillance footage as those worn by the suspect with a hammer.

Gobert denied being part of the robbery when questioned by investigators, the affidavit says. Gobert was found in clothing and gloves very similar to that of a suspect in surveillance footage, and he was found with blue latex gloves, the affidavit says.

Authorities recovered four stolen watches scattered along where the suspects fled. One was a Rolex Submariner watch, and the other three were Rolex Oyster Perpetual watches.

What elevated this to a federal case was the disruption of interstate commerce, the affidavit says. After investigators talked to Stokes, they learned the stolen merchandise, both recovered and not recovered, totaled $207,000. The watches were made in Switzerland, imported to New York and then shipped to the store in Austin, the affidavit says.

Korman’s closed due to the robbery, and then operated at limited capacity because of the lost items, the affidavit says, causing them to lose money.

Korman is now open, and owners are “looking forward to welcoming in customers through the locked front doors with smiling faces,” they said.

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