Two men plead guilty to 2019 five-hour armed robbery spree
Published 6:35 pm Friday, January 27, 2023
A Suffolk man and a Chesapeake man pleaded guilty this week to their roles in a series of armed robberies of 7-Eleven establishments in Newport News, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
According to federal court documents, just before midnight on July 24, 2019, and into the early morning hours of July 25, 2019, Ronald Lee Brookins, Jr., 22, of Suffolk, and Deric Breon Simons, 23, of Chesapeake, and a third individual conducted a series of armed robberies at 7-Eleven convenience stores. That third individual, Michael Moore III, 18, of Suffolk, died during an attempted robbery at a 7-Eleven at 130 S. Newtown Road, according to a 2019 news release from Virginia Beach Police.
Beginning in Newport News, the three men entered the stores armed with a firearm, a knife, and a BB gun that resembled a real firearm. While brandishing their weapons, they demanded U.S. currency and commercial products from frightened employees, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. They committed three additional robberies, moving between Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
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During the fifth and final robbery, Brookins and the third co-conspirator entered the convenience store, while Simons remained in the getaway vehicle. In addition to the store employee, there were three customers inside the store at the time of the robbery, the U.S. Attorney’s office release stated. Fearing for everyone’s safety, an armed customer discharged his personal weapon, killing one co-conspirator and injuring Brookins.
Brookins pleaded guilty to his role in the robberies on Jan. 24. Simons and Brookins are scheduled to be sentenced on June 1. They both face a mandatory minimum of 21 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; Steve R. Drew, Chief of Newport News Police; Mike Goldsmith, Interim Chief of Norfolk Police; and Paul Neudigate, Chief of Virginia Beach Police, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller accepted the plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristin Bird and Megan Montoya are prosecuting the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.