Man charged in violent home invasion; roommate arrested in other robbery

Deputies: Roommate led deputies on chase with 3 teens in car; all 4 arrested

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A 41-year-old man was arrested Monday night in connection with a violent home invasion robbery last month in Middleburg, and his roommate, who is a person of interest in the home invasion case, was arrested Monday in a separate incident after a police chase, deputies said.

Mark Berk was taken into custody at his home on Peppermint Avenue on charges of armed robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and grand theft.

According to the arrest warrant, Berk and another man broke into a home on that same street, armed with baseball bats. They used the bats on the victim, leaving him with broken ribs, a broken nose and other injuries, deputies said. They also stole a rifle and the license plate off the victim’s pickup truck.

The victim later spotted his license plate on an SUV that was parked at Berk’s home, deputies said.

A neighbor recognized Berk when he saw his mug shot.

"It's kind of unexpected. He always seemed like a fairly nice man, so I'm really honestly surprised," said the neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous. "It really is scary, especially having children. It used to be that Middleburg was a small, pretty easy-going town. Then as it has expanded over the years, it seems like you hear a lot more about home invasions and things of that nature." 

Berk's roommate, 20-year-old Elijah Bell, was identified as a person of interest in the case but has not been charged.

He was arrested Monday in Middleburg after a brief pursuit in which a Clay County Sheriff's Office cruiser was rammed, deputies said. The deputy in the cruiser was not injured.

Bell had been driving a car that was wanted in connection with a strong arm robbery Monday in Clay County.

After he was caught, along with three teenagers who were in the car, he was charged with robbery, aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and eluding police.

The teens have also been charged with robbery.

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