ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings announced Wednesday that deputies arrested five men allegedly connected to 40 violent crimes dating back to December 2013.
The nearly seven-month crime spree includes armed holdups of CVS and Walgreens pharmacies, hotels and convenience stores, officials said.
The arrests have put three different groups of robbers behind bars, authorities said, which is a huge victory for the Sheriff's Office in its fight to crack down on a recent spike in violent crime across Orange County.
“To our knowledge none of these groups or individuals know each other, they were just three separate groups acting on their own accord,” Demings said.
Detectives said it could mean the groups pulled off copy-cat crimes after months with no arrests.
“The simple message that we’re sending today to other would-be robbers: We’re coming after you next,” Demings said.
Detectives said they spent months doing surveillance and collecting DNA to make the five arrests.
Investigators said the Boonie Hat Gang was named for the hats Demarques Brown, Brixton Dyer and Damien Altidor allegedly wore while holding up two hotels and six CVS stores.
Dyer is also accused of killing a 20-year-old man outside Winnie Palmer Hospital in an unrelated crime.
“During the middle of all these robberies, a homicide occurred,” said Sgt. Dan Brady with the Orlando Police Department.
Authorities are still looking for Altidor.
In separate robberies, Darin Givens and Pheathine Quinn are accused of hitting 10 more CVS stores. A third suspect, Joseph Price, who is accused of firing at deputies, is still on the run.
Another man, Tavares Anon, is accused of holding up a Dollar Store and another CVS.
"He's shown acts of violence. Glad we got him off the street," said Demings. "These individuals have been linked to multiple robberies and at least one homicide as well."
The Sheriff's Office and Orlando police worked together to identify and arrest the suspects, but Demings said there is still work to be done.
"The community is safer as a result of these multiple arrests being made," Demings said.