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Woman arrested in Riverside armed robbery

Woman displayed gun in waistband, demanded purses, JSO says

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The woman wanted by police, accused of showing a gun to two other women in Riverside and stealing a purse, is behind bars Monday after she turned herself in officials said.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said that robbery occurred about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday on Margaret Street near the corner of Post Street.

According to police, two women were leaving their cars when Shakierra Ray lifted her shirt, displayed a gun in her waistband and demanded their purses.

Melissa Venis-Brooks has a business inside the Phenix Salon Suites. When she came into work shortly after the robbery, she never imagined it would be a colleague who would be the victim.

"I was actually really shaken up by it. It was real shocking," Venis-Brooks said. "When I walked in and found that that happened to her, I was thankful to see she was OK. However, just real shaken up that that actually happened to her."

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After stealing a purse from one of the victims, Ray ran away as surveillance video captured her on camera.

Venis-Brooks is shocked to think that had she arrived just minutes before, she could have easily been a victim.

"I think now how I need to be prepared mentally for that," Venis-Brooks said.

News4Jax spoke to Crime and Safety Analyst Gil Smith. He said now that everyone is entering the holiday season, crimes like this tend to happen more often. People need to be on the lookout, especially in areas like parking lots.

"Once you're coming close to where you're going to park your car, that's when you should really start looking around," Smith said. "See if you see anything or anyone unusual. Or if someone is just standing around."

That's advice Venis-Brooks is taking to heart.

"You just have to kind of run in, run through it mentally how you would react in the safest way possible," Venis-Brooks said. "Just to make sure you're on point and you know your surroundings. Absolutely."

Some other advice from Smith is if anyone is ever confronted by a robber, they should do everything they can to remember anything about them, such as a description, what they were wearing or a direction where they were seen running.

Anyone with information is urged to call JSO at 904-630-0500 or Crime Stoppers at 866-845-TIPS.


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