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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."

paul hruz December 22, 2012 at 01:55 AM
The young man used a gun to commit this crime, now are the same people crying for all these new gun laws going to push for these two to be charged as adults and sent to prison. Stupid question we all know they will want them to get their hands slapped and be set free.
pupdog1 December 22, 2012 at 03:04 AM
Umm, yeah Bobby... How do you relate your statement to the fact that these mutts actually showed up in our East Tosa Speedway packed with customers, packing a gun? This is a level of spin that even the US Congress would be ashamed of--and that's quite a standard. "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 03:49 AM
Umm, pup, I think maybe Bobby's relating it to the fact that every one of multiple witnesses alertly recognized what was going on and all of them called the police, and another concerned citizen (or citizens, there may have been more than one) called and identified the suspect from the photo, and that suspect confessed and rolled over on his accomplice, and hence, they DIDN'T get away with it. Isn't that the way we want it to work? You're looking for a world where criminals either don't show up at all or get caught in the act every time. We live in a world where, if police and the public cooperate, crooks may commit crimes but they get caught and punished. As to the fact that "these mutts actually showed up in our East Tosa Speedway packed with customers, packing a gun?" – as if that proves criminals are having a free-for-all holiday in East Tosa – well, all it really proves is that one 16-year-old doesn't have very good judgment about how, where and when to perpetrate a crime. Because, as events proved, he got caught. I would have thought this story would have been beyond the reproach of even the most ardent opponents of Wauwatosa. No one got hurt. The bad guys got caught. What is it that you want?
pupdog1 December 22, 2012 at 06:25 AM
You have done an excellent job reporting on very serious crime in Tosa, but you don't need to write an essay when you don't agree with a comment. This forum is about opinions, not agreeing with the editor. Strongarms such as those you report seemingly bi-weekly almost never used to happen in Tosa. Your experience doesn't go back far enough. My personal opinion is that this type of crime has accelerated here over the last four years, especially in Far East Tosa. Pantuso is the guy who hated having an established outfit like O'Riley's Auto Parts take over a large derelict commercial property, thereby destroying his development roadmap aldervision. He apparently has no idea that East Tosa is packed with vacant commercial spaces offering free rent. Crime, and the perception of crime, is a major factor in how private businesses choose to deploy capital. In order to solve a problem, it must first be clearly and accurately defined--not alderspun away. These bad guys aren't "realizing" anything. They come here because they think it's easy pickins', and because all the gas stations and minimarts back in the hood have Glocks under the counter. I really hope you don't think Speedway was somehow a mere bagatelle because "no one got hurt" and that this is only about "one 16-year-old [who] doesn't have very good judgment ...". One panicky 16-year-old gangster can kill you just as dead as any adult. Ask anyone in Chicago.
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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