LAKE CITY, Fla. - A man is facing numerous charges after robbing a victim at a TJ Maxx store and drugs were discovered, the Lake City Police Department said.
Officers went at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to the TJ Maxx store for a robbery that had just happened.
Police said officers learned the victim left the store while holding a gift card worth $128.46, $42 in cash and a sales receipt.
When the victim walked out of the store, she was approached by a man who was later identified as Eric Jones, 32, police said. As Jones passed the victim, he snatched the card and money out of her hand.
The victim told police she thought at first it was a prank and turned to speak to Jones when she saw him quickly entering a vehicle. She told Jones she was calling 911 and that she had his license plate number, to which he reportedly replied, "Call the police. It's a rental," before driving away, police said.
Officers identified the vehicle as an Enterprise rental car from the tag provided, and with the help of the rental company, determined the address of the renter on Northwest Alma Street, police said.
Police went to the area where they spotted the vehicle driving. Police said the driver matched the description provided by the victim. When they turned around and got behind the vehicle, it pulled suddenly into the backyard of a home and the driver fled. Police said officers noted Jones was wearing the same clothes as the victim described and pursued.
Jones ran into a home after a brief foot chase leading through the neighborhood. Police said officers entered and detained Jones.
The vehicle that Jones abandoned was towed from the scene. Police said an inventory of the vehicle revealed the stolen TJ Maxx gift card, cash and receipt.
It also revealed four pieces of a rock-like substance that field-tested positive for Flakka, two bags of marijuana and 19 individual "baggies" of white powder that field-tested positive for cocaine, the Lake City Police Department said.
"When victims speak up and call the police our chances of apprehending criminals increases greatly," police Chief Argatha Gilmore said. "And in cases like this, a strong-arm robbery may also lead us to detecting other serious crimes. If you see something, say something."
Jones was arrested and taken to the Columbia County Jail, where he is currently being held in lieu of a $79,000 bail on charges including robbery by sudden snatching, distribution of cocaine, distribution of synthetic narcotics, possession of marijuana, possession of drug equipment, resisting arrest and operating a motor vehicle without a license.
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