Authorities in the Columbus area are investigating a possible pattern of recent robberies by masked gunmen.
At least five robberies fitting the pattern were reported in Columbus and Lowndes County in July.
Although the cases have not been linked by Columbus police or the Lowndes County Sheriff”s Office, investigators are considering a possible connection.
“Do I think they quite possibly could be (related)? Of course,” said Sheriff”s Office Chief Deputy Greg Wright.
“But there”s a big difference between ”could be” and ”are,”” he added.
Police investigators are also withholding judgment about a possible connection between the cases, said Columbus Police Department Public Information Officer Terrie Songer.
“We”re looking for similarities and any possible links,” added Columbus Police Chief Joseph St. John. “We don”t really want to say the crimes are connected. We don”t want to tip our hands one way or the other.”
The most recent robbery was reported July 24, when about 10 people said they were robbed while partying at an apartment at 221 Fourth St. N. shortly after 4 a.m.
Two tall men wearing ski masks and brandishing pistols took the victims” wallets, cell phones and cash, struck one victim in the face with the gun and fired two shots through a glass door as they were leaving, police reported.
Before that, a clerk at the Prairie Pointe Chevron in Lowndes County was robbed and pistol-whipped by a masked man on July 17 at about 9:15 p.m. The victim was assaulted after he stepped outside to take out the trash, a co-worker said.
The suspect was described by the Lowndes County Sheriff”s Office as a black male, 6 feet, 200 pounds and wearing a long, black, hooded jacket.
Two more robberies by masked men were reported to Columbus police, July 11.
Three masked men robbed a 45-year-old man as he sat on the porch at 1127 15th St. N. at about 1:45 a.m. One of the suspects used a pistol to hit the man in the face, splitting his lip.
About four hours later, two masked men robbed and pistol-whipped a man after kicking in the door of room 101 at the Economy Inn at 2206 Main St., where the victim was staying with a woman.
Columbus police are also seeking two men for a July 8 armed robbery at Mike”s Lounge at 716 Alabama St.
The men, who were not masked, approached a woman as she was parking her vehicle in the rear parking lot at 10:36 p.m. The suspects, one of whom was armed with a silver revolver, stole her cell phone and fled the scene after she told them she had no money.
No suspects are in custody for the robberies in Columbus or Lowndes County, according to Songer and Scott.
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