JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two men accused of holding up a Lakeshore pawn shop in November and stealing 40 guns and more than $100,000 in cash and jewelry are behind bars thanks to CrimeStoppers tips, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams announced at a news conference Thursday.
Antoine Spight, 28, and Brandon Nicholson, 30, are charged with robbery, false imprisonment and armed burglary.
Williams called the pair “career criminals” and said they were captured on surveillance video Nov. 16 robbing the Treasure Chest Pawn & Gun Shop on Cassat Avenue.
Williams said Spight and Nicholson posed as customers shopping for engagement rings, but surveillance video shows how quickly the situation turned violent.
The video shows one of the men pointing a gun at the clerk, who police said was ordered to hand over the keys to the gun cabinet. The other man then zip-ties her hands behind her back.
Williams said she was the only employee in the store and there were no other customers inside.
Williams said the two men then forced the woman into a bathroom before they grabbed dozens of handguns, plus the cash and jewelry and left in the clerk’s car.
He described the clerk as brave and said she called 911 with her hands still tied behind her back.
The clerk’s co-worker told News4Jax that she wasn’t hurt during the robbery but is still shaken up almost a month later. News4Jax learned she was over 65 years old.
Her car was found soon after the robbery abandoned at a nearby apartment complex.
Williams said investigators released photos of the two men from the surveillance footage and asked the community to help identify them.
He said a CrimeStoppers tip four days later on Nov. 20, followed by some “incredible investigative work,” led to Spight’s identity, and he was arrested outside Atlanta “just hours after the tip was received.”
Williams said 26 of the 40 stolen guns were found at Spight’s mother’s home in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He said investigators working with DEA learned Spight had planned to travel to New York to sell the guns.
The sheriff said another tip just two days later led to investigators identifying Nicholson as the other man involved. He was arrested Nov. 25 at a Westside motel after a brief standoff with U.S. Marshals. Williams said Nicholson had the handgun used in the robbery and some of the stolen jewelry with him when he was arrested.
“This case not only highlights the great investigative efforts by our federal and local law enforcement partnerships, but it also reminds us of the valuable asset that First Coast CrimeStoppers is to our community,” Williams said. “And obviously the critical piece that the community plays in crimes like this, where without their information we would not be able to solve these crimes, absolutely would not be able to solve them so quickly.”
Investigators believe two other suspects -- acting as either lookouts or getaway drivers -- might be involved in the robbery. They ask anyone with information about the robbery and anyone else involved to call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS or JSO at 904-630-0500.
Williams said more than a dozen other handguns have not yet been found.
The clerk’s co-worker told News4Jax he is appreciative of the hard work of the police and the federal agents to make arrests in the case He’s also thankful for the people who came forward with those anonymous CrimeStoppers tips.
He also pointed out that the shop has upgraded its security all across the property, and there are now even more cameras in every corner.