Burlington police Thursday, September 29 arrested two active-duty Air Force members and a Winooski man for assault and robbery. Police say they forced a man at gunpoint to undress and then stole his clothes and possessions shortly after midnight on Saturday, September 17.
The robbery took place on Brown’s Court, a small street in the downtown area. Police say the three men allegedly approached a male victim on King Street between St. Paul St. and Church St.. These men had masked themselves, in some case apparently with their T-shirts. They threatened the victim, and one of the men pointed a gun at him. They forced him to disrobe, took his clothing and property, and then fled.
Michael Chea, 24, of Winooski, charged with assault and robbery. He was arraigned Sept. 29 and released on conditions.
Zafer Suliman, 22, of Williston, charged with assault and robbery. He was lodged at Northwest Correctional Facility in Swanton without bail, and was arraigned Friday morning. The state’s attorney sought to have him held without bail, but the court released him on conditions.
Latavious Elam, 23, of Williston, charged with assault and robbery. He allegedly threatened the victim with the gun. He was lodged at Northwest State without bail, and after arraignment Friday was returned to jail without bail.
Suliman and Elam are active-duty Air Force membes. The Air Force, Vermont Air National Guard, and the Vermont Army National Guard assisted with the investigation. The BPD also thanked the Vermont State Police Narcotics Investigation Unit.
“This was a terrible crime,” said acting Chief of Police Jon Murad. “There was a frightening sense of randomness that sent a lot of ripples through our community.” He praised Detective Erica Schaller for her “good old gumshoe work” on the case.
Burlington police also reported September 30 on two other violent crimes downtown:
Police are seeking Ashley Richards, 39, for allegedly assaulting a 69-year-old man in a wheelchair while he was withdrawing money from an ATM at 7:32 AM on Wednesday, September 28. Richards was among two women inside the vestibule of a bank at 125 St. Paul Street. She struck the man and stole his money and fled. A surveillance photo was circulated and BPD and others identified her as Richards.
Jashier Gillespie, 20, of Philadelphia PA was arrested for assault and robbery, aggravated assault, and resisting arrest in connection with the severe assault on a man in the Wahlgreen’s Parking lot Wednesday afternoon Sept. 28. He is being held without bail, in part owing to having no ties in the community. He has an extensive criminal history in Pennsylvania, including arrests for felony robbery, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy, and drug charges, police say.