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Voice leads Fayette deputies to 2 arrests in serial robberies

The robbery of a south Fayette convenience store has been tied to two men accused of 11 other similar heists in the metro Atlanta area, according to Fayette County Sheriff Barry Babb.

The June 24 incident at St. John’s Crossing BP on Ga. Highway 85 south near Bernhard Road involved a man who produced a black handgun and demanded cash from the register and several rolls of lottery tickets, Babb said. A day later, sheriff’s investigators were following up on the case in Conley, Ga. and interviewed a man named Lewis Flagg, who also consented to a search, but there was not enough evidence to arrest him at the time.

Meanwhile, investigators learned of 11 additional robberies around the Atlanta area that were committed by the same person, officials said. Those jurisdictions got their heads together in a meeting, and that’s when sheriff’s Det. Josh Shelton was able to finger Flagg as the perpetrator.

It turns out that in one of the other cases, the surveillance video included audio, Shelton said.

“When I heard it, I was like ‘That’s him!’” Shelton said.

Shelton had been looking at hotels in the area in the hopes of finding someone who would recognize the suspect in the St. John’s Crossing robbery, and he had happened across Flagg at a Conley hotel the day after the robbery.

Flagg was ultimately arrested July 10 by the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force, and the next day the marshals’ unit joined Gwinnett County police in arresting Roderick Thornton, who is accused of working with Flagg on the robberies.

Shelton chalked the encounter with Flagg up to good luck, though he admitted it was also a matter of “shoe leather” detective work.

Several agencies contributed to the investigation and arrests of Flagg and Thornton including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, police departments in Sandy Springs, Chamblee, Cobb County, Gwinnett County, Locust Grove, Atlanta, Lilburn and Suwanee along with the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office, officials said.

“This is what happens when we all put our heads together,” Babb said. “We were working off of very little evidence, but because of the information sharing of all of the agencies we were able to put the pieces of the puzzle together. It was great teamwork and we operate here at the Sheriff’s Office as a team, but I will have to single out our Detective Josh Shelton on a job well done.”

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