AUSTIN (KXAN) — A Pflugerville man is accused of being involved in a string of summertime robberies at food trucks and a fireworks stand in Austin.
Phillip Lara, 35, faces at least eight charges of aggravated robbery, Travis County Jail records show, and has a combined bond of $310,000 for those charges. KXAN has reached out to Lara’s attorney. We will update this story once a response is received.
An arrest affidavit for Lara provided details on three of the robberies police said he is tied to.
The first occurred on June 7 at 12:32 a.m. at the El Pollo Rico Express food truck on Dessau Road in far north Austin. According to the affidavit, employees told officers they were cleaning the trailer when two suspects with face coverings robbed them at gunpoint.
The suspects stole a cash register drawer, an undisclosed amount of money, a box of rolled coins and an iPhone, the affidavit said. They drove away in a black Nissan Altima.
Surveillance video recorded the two suspects, both white men, as well as their clothing, the affidavit said. One was described as being 20-25 years of age and the other 30-40 years of age. One of them had an AR-15-style firearm.
The affidavit said the second robbery happened the same morning of June 7 about an hour later at the Las Amazonas food stand on South Congress Avenue.
Workers told police they were robbed at gunpoint by two men with all black face coverings; one was carrying a “long gun.” The affidavit said the thieves took the cash register drawer and an undisclosed amount of cash, then drove off in a black Nissan Altima.
Like the robbery just an hour beforehand, the suspects were recorded on security footage and matched the descriptions of the suspects in the El Pollo Rico Express robbery.
The third robbery that helped police connect Lara to the incidents happened on July 4 at 11:55 p.m. at a fireworks stand on W. Howard Lane. This robbery was initially investigated by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, the affidavit said, and deputies had already arrested Lara in connection to the case.
A similar gun and clothing items were recovered from this investigation of the fireworks stand robbery, and they matched those seen on surveillance video from the June 7 robberies, the affidavit said.
The affidavit said Austin officers interviewed Lara, and though he reportedly didn’t deny his involvement in the fireworks stand robbery, he “still he attempted to minimize his participation, saying he was not there to hurt anyone and did not point a gun at or threaten anyone.”
Officers carried out a search warrant at Lara’s Pflugerville home on July 5 and found black-and-white shoes previously seen on security video worn by one of the robbery suspects in June. Lara also has a vehicle, a black Nissan Altima, which was the description of the getaway car in the June 7 robberies.
Officers also said in the affidavit Lara matched one of the suspects recorded on video.
It’s not clear if the second suspect has been charged yet.