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Some fast work by Shelbyville Police detectives led to the arrest Tuesday of a man wanted in connection with numerous armed robberies of banks and grocery stores across the state, including the Shelbyville Kroger on Sunday night.
Stewart Ray, 24, along with Gregory Mitchell, 29, his alleged accomplice, both of Louisville, were arrested by U.S. marshals at 12:30 p.m. at their residence on Lunenburg Lane after SPD Detectives Stacy Bruce and Jesse Paulley located them and led surveillance of their home.
Ray and Mitchell were turned over to Louisville Police detectives, who charged Ray with a robbery there. Mitchell was charged on a Lexington robbery.
They are also charged with first-degree armed robbery of the Shelbyville Kroger.
“And I’m sure other charges will be forthcoming,” Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte said. “I’m sure there will be a myriad of charges when all is said and done.”
Sunday’s robbery, which occurred at 9:09 p.m., was the most recent in a long line of “serial robberies” at three banks in Northern Kentucky and two Kroger stores in Lexington that appeared to be committed by the same suspect, based on images captured on the stores’ video surveillance systems. No one was injured.
Some fast work by employees of Shelbyville Kroger and then longtime partners Bruce and Paulley put into motion the location and apprehension of the two suspects.
Tim McGuirk, spokesperson for Kroger’s Louisville office, said employees of the Shelbyville store acted quickly after the man, armed with a semi-automatic pistol, left the store with an undisclosed amount of cash.
“We called the police right away, who closed the store down to conduct their investigation, to conduct interviews with witnesses and collect fingerprints,” he said Monday.
The next day, arrests were made.
“It’s been a busy couple of days, and we’ve got two top-notch detectives working in our unit that have just done an outstanding job,” Schutte said.
He described the whirlwind investigation that led to the arrest of Ray and Mitchell as being a team effort by local, state and federal officers.
“After the robbery here Sunday night, we started from scratch and we got information from Kroger representatives that the same person may have been involved in similar robberies in the Lexington area, so we contacted Lexington,” Shelbyville Police Chief Robert Schutte said. “They[Lexington Police Department] had had some similar robberies and sent us some photographs.
“Early yesterday [Monday] afternoon, we got confirmation from AFIS [Automated Fingerprint Identification System] in Frankfort of a positive identification of a fingerprint that we recovered from the scene.”
Schutte said it was just a matter of hours until Fred Crane with AFIS got the information to them.
“From there, we’re just doing detective work on that name, trying to track him down,” he said. “It was obviously the same person, so then we started trying to locate them.”
Schutte said his detectives found out that Ray, whom they learned had been jailed in eastern Kentucky, also had been in custody in La Grange, where he had also been on parole.
“But he had absconded from his parole responsibilities there, and they hadn’t heard from him since September,” he said.
“We did a lot of leg work and were able to come up with a possible location in eastern Jefferson County. We had information that that U.S. Marshal’s service had been looking for him from northern Kentucky. We contacted them, and they assisted in the surveillance last night.”
Schutte said the pair, who were apparently roommates, were not there when police started surveillance, but around midnight, they returned home and were apprehended.
Although Bruce and Paulley had located the suspects, they permitted the marshals to make the arrest, Schutte said.
“We discussed this with the marshals, and we decided that at that point, we were going to break off,” he said.