COVINGTON - Two armed men who police say admitted they went riding around looking for a place to rob Friday night settled on the Royal Palace restaurant on U.S. Highway 278, according to Covington Police Sgt. Arvo Bowen.
Arrested and charged with armed robbery were Anthony Flournoy, 21, of 706 Iris Glen Drive, Conyers, and Rodrick Vason, 22, of 10173 Puckett St.
Around 11 p.m., two men kicked open the back screen door of the restaurant, brandishing handguns, "shoving, kicking and hitting," nine employees and demanding money, Bowen said.
"The manager of the restaurant was able to call 911 and they could hear what was happening," Bowen said. "Police arrived and could see inside the building while the robbers actually had guns on the victims."
Bowen said Officer Asher Dozier was the first on the scene and he advised there was a potential hostage situation and began relaying information to Sgt. Allen Martin, who began directing officers to set up a perimeter.
"We hold life dearest and take every precaution in a situation like that. We won't go rushing in," Bowen said.
The culprits soon noticed the presence of police, however, and ran out the back door in the direction of Bojangles'. It was only a matter of minutes before they were apprehended.
Officers Mitch Nicholson and Kevin Gladden were on Old Atlanta Highway when Nicholson saw a man who fit the description of one of the suspects taking off his coat, while pretending to talk on a cell phone, Bowen said. He was arrested without incident and Bowen said it later developed that the cell phone he was pretending to use was actually taken from one of the employees of the restaurant.
A short time later, an employee of Applebee's told officers a man had just run into her restaurant, and when Officer Gene Nuqui and Sgt. Martin arrived, they discovered a man sitting on a bench in front of the restaurant who Bowen said was acting nervous and fit the description of one of the suspects. He was arrested and found to have a pocketful of money belonging to the Royal Palace.
"It was a pretty big crime scene," Bowen said, adding that money was strewn all the way from the Chinese restaurant up to Applebee's. The suspects told officers they had thrown their weapons - a .22 caliber pistol and a BB gun - behind Raceway gas station. Bowen said officers were able to recover the guns.
"We got total confessions out of both suspects," he said. "They said they had gotten together earlier that evening and decided to rob someone and rode around looking for opportunities. Because the back door was open and it was not very well lit, they selected the Royal Palace as a target."
Bowen praised the efforts of everyone who worked on the case, including evidence technician Herrion Ervin who gathered and documented the large quantity of evidence.
He commended every member of the shift - Supervisor Sgt. Allen Martin, Officer Gene Nuqui, Officer Asher Dozier, Officer E. Bertrand, Officer Mitch Nicholson, Officer Ken Cribb and Officer Ken Gladden.
"They all did a super job in responding and were in total control of the situation," Bowen said. "These officers chased these suspects not knowing if they were (still) armed and assuming they were. They're the heroes."
Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara. firstname.lastname@example.org.