This story was updated at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2013.
A rental truck allegedly used as the getaway vehicle in a bold daytime robbery of a downtown Frederick jewelry store last week led police to a cellphone that helped identify a suspect now in custody — and as well as the recovery of an assault-style weapon.
Alonzo Meadows, 32, of Fairfax, who is suspected of being one of three masked robbers who stole about $200,000 in merchandise from Colonial Jewelers on Feb. 5, is being held without bail, according to court records.
Meadows waived extradition from Washington, D.C., where he was being held after his arrest there on Feb. 6, and was returned to Frederick Friday to face 19 charges, Frederick police said.
Meadows was charged with five counts each of first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment, and one count each of armed robbery, robbery, theft of over $100,000 and use of a firearm in committing a violent felony, according to charging documents.
Frederick County District Court Judge Janice Ambrose ordered him held without bail Monday in the Frederick County Adult Detention Center.
When arrested, Meadows was driving a black pickup truck that matched the description of the vehicle used in the robbery of Colonial Jewelers, according to Lt. Clark Pennington, a spokesman for the Frederick Police Department.
Meadows is believed to be one of three men who robbed the store, located at 1 S. Market St., at about 1:30 p.m., using pepper spray on 10 employees and customers before smashing a glass display case to steal several “expensive watches,” police have said.
He was being held by the Metropolitan Police Department on a fugitive warrant for his alleged involvement in the robbery, but was transported to Frederick last week after he waived his right to an extradition hearing, Pennington said.
The truck he was found driving had already been transported to Frederick, where it was being processed for evidence.
“We have the truck, and we are conducting searches on it,” Pennington said.
Police traced the truck to a rental agency, and then found a phone number for Meadows, the court documents said.
Investigators were also able to trace call and usage data for the cellphone, which they say was in Frederick at the time of the crime, specifically in locations close to an alley near Carroll Creek Linear Park, where the truck was allegedly parked during the robbery, the documents said.
Detectives also interviewed Meadows and a woman identified as his girlfriend. While conducting interviews at the woman’s house along with a detective from the Metropolitan Police Department, Frederick police obtained permission to search her house.
There police found a magazine loaded with ammunition and an AR-15 rifle stamped “law enforcement or government use only” under a bed in the house, as well as four, 30-round magazines, a 10-round magazine and a front handle designed for the rifle, the documents said.
Two Frederick police detectives were in the vicinity of the jewelry store on the day of the robbery when the department was notified that it was being held up at gunpoint, police said.
As Detective Michael Morgan approached the store on foot, he saw several men wearing masks leave and run east on Patrick Street, police said.
Morgan chased the men until they got into a black pickup truck with Virginia tags and drove away. Morgan was able to get the license plate number, police said.
During the robbery, the suspects ordered employees and customers in the store to lie on the floor, while one of the men brandished a handgun, police said.
A surveillance video released by police showed the men smashing a pane of glass in a display case that contained the watches with what appears to be a mallet.
After removing the merchandise, one of the men squirted pepper spray into the air, exposing about 10 employees and customers.
Employees and customers who were exposed to the pepper spray were treated on scene. There were no other injuries.
Pennington said the investigation is continuing into the identity of the other two suspects.
“We are continuing to [work on this case] and follow leads,” he said.
Ledwell said last week that there were “similarities” between the incident and an armed robbery on Feb. 4 at a Zales Jewelers in The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.
In that incident, four men wearing masks walked into the Virginia store, and two of them used a hammer to smash display cases, according to The Washington Post. The men took 27 rings worth about $128,000.
Pennington said later in the week that detectives were still investigating whether there is a connection between the Pentagon City robbery and the Frederick incident.
“We have not made a determination whether it’s connected or linked, but we are looking at it,” he said.
The police department quickly thanked the public for its help in investigating the case.
“This type of crime inevitably causes fear and shock not only to the victims, but also to the surrounding community. Despite this, both the victims and the surrounding community pulled together, and helped the [police department] to quickly establish crucial leads,” city Police Chief Thomas Ledwell said in the release. “We are very appreciative.”
Before the arrest was announced, Patty Hurwitz, co-owner of the Colonial Jewelers, said that it was hard for her to talk about the robbery.
“We’re trying to recover bit by bit,” she said. “Our staff is doing reasonably well.... We have a very close-knit staff.”
Hurwitz attributed the fact that no one was injured during the robbery to the staff’s professionalism and training.
“I’m just glad no one was hurt,” she said.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Morgan at 301-600-1259 or the tip line at 301-600-TIPS.