Sheriff: Man who robbed 10 convenience stores in 3 days captured in Operation Déjà Vu

Crime spree came less than 3 weeks after suspect was released from prison, Jacksonville sheriff says

Booking photo of Branon Purcell (Provided by Jacksonville Sheriff's Office)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man police say was involved in 10 convenience store robberies in Jacksonville over the course of three days last month was captured during an investigation dubbed Operation Déjà Vu, Sheriff T.K. Waters announced Wednesday.

Branon Purcell has been charged with five counts of armed robbery with a firearm, one count of fleeing and attempting to elude a law enforcement officer and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with the crime spree that ran from Jan. 19 through Jan. 21, police said.

Waters said there were no reports of injuries in any of the holdups at stores that included Walgreens, CVS, Circle K and Gate.

“Purcell is no stranger to criminal activity, as he had just been released from Florida State Prison 21 days — 21 days — before this arrest,” Waters said.

Court records show Purcell was released on Jan. 1 after serving less than two years of a 6.5-year sentence for armed robbery out of St. Johns County.

According to Waters, investigators quickly determined there was a serial robber at work after three convenience stores were robbed in exactly the same pattern on the same day.

Waters said Purcell would arm himself with a handgun, cover himself with a mask, hat and hoodie and walk up to the register, hold the store clerk at gunpoint and demand money from the cash register. He repeated three robberies following this same routine back-to-back on Jan. 19, Waters said.

“I’m especially proud of Operation Déjà Vu’s success, as it exemplifies our agency’s ability to collectively analyze, strategize and execute. It’s because of this coordinated efficiency that Purcell’s robbery spree was ended in a matter of days,” Waters said.

After Purcell was identified as their suspect, his description and vehicle description were sent out across the agency and two patrol officers — Kevin Nash and Ethan Hadden — recognized the vehicle and attempted to pull him over, Waters said.

Purcell, however, led them on a pursuit but was eventually taken into custody, Waters said.

Waters said investigators found $1,300 in cash, a handgun and cocaine in the vehicle.

“Once a pattern to these robberies emerged, leadership efficiently responded, pulling talent and expertise from different parts of this agency to respond quickly and effectively,” Waters said. “As a result, Purcell is off our streets facing extremely serious criminal penalties and will no longer be able to victimize our city’s business owners and residents.”

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