D.C. police arrested a man they say is linked to over a dozen armed robberies that targeted construction workers across Washington, D.C. Almost all of the victims were of Hispanic descent, according to charging documents.
Antonio Ussery, 26, was arrested Saturday afternoon, after an attempted armed robbery of two workers at a construction site in Northeast D.C.
Detectives linked Ussery to at least 19 robberies that took place between October and January in Northwest, Northeast and Southeast, police said.
In most of the robberies, Ussery approached the victims at the sites or near them while they were working or on their breaks, pointed his gun at them, and demanded their property, in most cases asking for money, according to charging documents.
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Then, he would take the victims' cash, wallets, cellphones and/or backpacks before fleeing.
Some of the alleged robberies took place at construction sites near alleys and trucks, or at homes undergoing renovations.
The suspect stole as much as $2,000 in cash from workers during the robberies, according to the documents. In several instances, the man also allegedly took the victims’ IDs and work permits, despite their pleas to let them keep them.
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Many of the victims needed interpreters and recounted the robberies to detectives in Spanish, according to charging documents.
In the first of 20 incidents, three workers reported in late October that they were at a construction site in Northeast D.C. when a man approached one of them from behind and demanded “money, money, money” while pointing a gun.
Days later at a different site in Northeast, the victims said a man pointed a black gun at them, took their wallets and cellphones and told them, “Don’t move. If you move, I’ll kill you,” before running away.
Some of the victims described the fear they felt during the attacks. In an incident in early November, a worker who had been digging a hole in the ground when he was ambushed said he was so scared after being grabbed by the neck and robbed at gunpoint that he stayed in the hole for at least 20 minutes.
Others said they waited to report the robberies because of how terrified, shocked or anxious they were.
Some victims told detectives they tried to follow the suspect after the robberies, but he managed to escape.
One victim told police he had just gotten off of work and was opening his car to get warm when he suddenly felt a gun at the side of his head, the documents said. The suspect and two other men went through his vehicle and grabbed his phone and wallet. The victim pleaded, “Leave me my papers, take my money." The three men refused and got away with his possessions, including his driver's license and work permit, the documents said.
In December, a group of workers said they were working on the kitchen and living room area of a residence under construction when a suspect entered the home through the rear door and pointed a weapon at them.
The suspect then allegedly grabbed one of the workers, stuck the handgun to his back and said, “Don’t move, give me your wallet or I’ma kill you,” the documents said. He ordered another victim to “give me your wallet or Imma shoot.” The workers complied and the suspect fled.
On Jan. 15, two construction workers told investigators a man, later identified as Ussery, attempted to rob them at an unoccupied residence in Northeast D.C. but they were able to hold the suspect down, according to charging documents. One of the workers suffered a gunshot wound to his hand.
The victims told detectives Ussery entered the house with a semi-automatic weapon while they were working and demanded money, the documents said.
One of the workers handed over his wallet but asked the robber to let him keep his ID. While Ussery was looking through the wallet, the worker grabbed the barrel of the suspect’s firearm and wrestled with Ussery, making both of them fall to the ground while fighting for the possession of the firearm, documents said. During the struggle, Ussery was able to fire one shot while the worker was still holding the gun barrel.
A second worker grabbed Ussery, which allowed the first worker to pull the gun out of Ussery’s hand, according to the charging documents.
The worker said he stood up and then told Ussery, “Don’t move or I’ll shoot you.” The suspect tried to run away, but the workers managed to restrain him and call 911.
Ussery was taken into custody and told detectives he was walking from his girlfriend’s house in the area when he found the gun on the ground and took it, the documents state.
He claimed he entered the residence, which he said he thought was unoccupied, and was approached by one of the workers, who asked him what he was doing before the struggle ensued.
He also told police he had been employed as a construction worker but had to quit his job four or five months ago because his car broke down and he didn’t have another means of transportation.
Police linked Ussery to the robberies through surveillance footage and images from the crime scenes, as well as victims’ descriptions of the suspect.
Ussery has been charged with several counts of armed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, burglary and gun-related offenses.