The suspect in a Tuesday morning armed robbery and police chase faces federal charges according to the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Brandon Raul Navarro, 28, of Sanford was charged with Hobbs Act Robbery and Carjacking under federal statutes after he robbed the Dollar General Store located at 19805 N.C. 27 West, Cameron, and took a 2005 Dodge Dakota belonging to the boyfriend of one of the store’s employees at knifepoint Tuesday morning.
Mr. Navarro was taken before a federal magistrate Wednesday morning. He was scheduled for a detention hearing on Monday and is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
According to a federal criminal complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina Wednesday morning, Mr. Navarro entered the store on three different occasions before committing the alleged crimes.
The first time he entered the store was before the store opened when the clerk inside was preparing for the day’s business, one hour prior to opening.
The complaint alleges Mr. Navarro walked up behind the clerk and startled her. After she told him the store was closed for another hour, he apologized and was seen walking down N.C. 27 toward Lillington.
The clerk told law enforcement officials he returned between 8 and 8:30 a.m. and walked around the store shopping.
A second employee of the store told authorities Mr. Navarro entered the store at that time, walked around and collected several items to purchase — beer, candy, a hat, cigarettes, lotion for poison ivy and deodorant.
The second employee, who was described as the store’s key holder in the complaint, told authorities Mr. Navarro said he had lost his wallet and left the store without purchasing anything.
It was his third visit to the store when Mr. Navarro is accused of following the second employee behind the cash register counter and asking her for her keys, specifically the keys to the Dodge Dakota in the parking lot.
When she informed him it was not her truck, Mr. Navarro allegedly had a pocketknife in his hand with “a funny looking handle” and, at that time, forced her to the back of the store where the other employee was working.
At this point, the suspect threatened to kill the first employee if she did not hand him the keys to the truck she later reported belonged to her boyfriend.
She gave him the keys and then he forced the store’s key holder to go with him to the front of the store where he asked for cigarettes.
The clerk reportedly put several packs in a bag and she was then instructed to lay on the floor, which she did.
Mr. Navarro is then accused of leaving the parking lot in the stolen truck heading west on N.C. 24/27.
It was at that point a Harnett County Sheriff’s deputy noticed the vehicle and a nearly 40-minute pursuit entailed. Police from Harnett, Moore and Hoke counties, the town of Vass and Fort Bragg Military Police units were all involved in the five-county pursuit that finally ended when Mr. Navarro crashed the truck and was taken into custody in Hoke County.
The crash occurred on Fort Bragg property near Morganton Road around 9:45 a.m.
To justify the federal charges against Mr. Navarro, the investigator cited interstate commerce as the basis.
In the criminal complaint, Bradley Abate, task force officer with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, reported because the cigarettes originated in Ohio, and were delivered to the Cameron Dollar General Store, the cigarettes must have traveled from one state to another and affected interstate commerce. Additionally, the store was closed for approximately four hours.
The circumstances supporting the federal carjacking charges Mr. Navarro now faces were similar in that the truck was manufactured in Michigan and was possessed in North Carolina, thus affecting interstate commerce.