PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla.- A Charlotte Harbor man was arrested Thursday on robbery charges after both witnesses and fingerprint evidence linked him to the crime.
An Englewood man reported that about 12:45 a.m. on Thursday, as he was getting into his vehicle in the parking lot of the Walmart, located at 19100 Murdock Circle, someone came up behind him, put a gun to his back and demanded money. The victim glanced over his shoulder and saw someone he described as being a Hispanic male with short, almost crew-cut length hair, wearing a grey or blue shirt with dark pants, holding a black handgun.
The victim said he had just gotten back cash from his purchase and gave the man that cash which was still wrapped in the purchase receipt. The victim said the suspect also grabbed a gold necklace from his neck.
When the victim no longer felt the gun in his back, he turned to see the man walking through the parking lot towards the nearby Applebee’s Restaurant. He then called the Sheriff’s Office to report the robbery.
Deputies responded and secured the area, locating several potential witnesses in the area of Applebee’s. The witnesses reported that a man matching the description given by the victim of the suspect had asked for a ride, but they declined. They said he had been wearing a grey shirt, but had taken it off and was wearing a red tank top. They said the man left the area on foot.
As detectives continued the investigation, they reviewed video from Applebee’s that showed a man matching the suspect’s description digging in the mulch of a planting area. Detectives located a shirt and a necklace that the victim identified as the necklace taken from him.
While detectives were still in the area, they saw John Wesley Cruz, 24, digging through the mulch of the shrubbery area around the Burger King. They watched as he approached some lawn care workers in the area. According to those lawn care workers, Cruz told them he was looking for a shirt and necklace.
Shortly after the incident was reported, deputies located a Walmart receipt in a trash can not far from the location of the robbery. They were able to match that receipt with the purchases and cash back transaction the victim had made just prior to the robbery. Crime Scene Technicians processed the receipt and developed a latent fingerprint they were able to match to Cruz.
When detectives approached Cruz, they found that he was wearing a red tank top under his T-shirt. He also had similar pants and shoes as the person who was seen in the video burying the shirt and necklace in the mulch. Cruz was arrested and charged with Robbery with a Firearm. He is being held at the Charlotte County Jail on a $30,000 bond.