Lakeland Police Officers caught a robbery suspect in the act at a store within their city limits, just days after the same suspect robbed a store in unincorporated Lakeland (PCSO jurisdiction).
According to his affidavits, a citizen flagged down an LPD officer on Saturday, February 13, 2021, around 10:23 p.m., alerting the officer to the fact that a clerk was in distress at the 7-Eleven store located at 851 South Florida Avenue. The Officer immediately responded and found 42-year-old Antonio Welch, armed with a knife, behind the counter and on top of the clerk. The Officer quickly apprehended Welch, who was wearing a black hoodie, black shorts, a black mask, and red shoes with white soles.
PCSO deputies who were in the area at the time heard the suspect description (specifically, the red shoes) and noted it matched the description of a suspect in a robbery that occurred at the Kangaroo store located at 2100 West Memorial Blvd. on February 9, 2021.
Click here to read the PCSO Crime Stoppers bulletin.
Click here to read the LPD news release.
Detectives from both agencies interviewed Welch at LPD headquarters, and he admitted to committing both robberies, and assaulting both clerks.
“The cooperation and swift response by every agency in our county is what makes Polk one of the safest places to live in Florida. We’re especially grateful to the citizen who saw something and said something. This dangerous, violent felon was caught before he could commit any more violent crimes, and hopefully he will go to prison for a very long time.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff
Welch has been charged by LPD with:
- Armed robbery (F1)
- False imprisonment (F3)
- Aggravated battery with a deadly weapon (F2)
- Possession of cocaine (F3)
- Possession of paraphernalia (M1)
Welch has been charged by PCSO with:
- Armed robbery (FC)
- Armed burglary with assault (FC)
Welch’s criminal history includes previous arrests for burglary with battery, larceny, brawling/disorderly conduct, sale of cocaine, trespassing, fraud, VOP, and failure to appear.