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Robbery suspects jailed in Va. Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Two men are behind bars here and a third is sought in a series of armed robberies in two states.

Gates County Sheriff Ed Webb said 36-year-old Wade Anderson Watford and 17-year-old Travis Antonio Knight are currently in the custody of the Virginia Beach Police Department. They are connected with a string of heists in Virginia Beach and Webb said he has evidence that leads him to believe the pair was involved in the armed robberies of two Family Foods locations in Gates County earlier this month.

The third person sought by Virginia Beach and Gates County law enforcement officers is Raymond Lewis Perry, 19, of Norfolk, Va.

Sheriff Webb said he and his officers, working 14-to-16 hour days on this case, got a break last week upon a telephone call from the Virginia Beach Police.

“They had been working a rash of armed robberies in their city that appeared to be connected with ours here in Gates County,” Webb said. “At that point we drove to Virginia Beach and met with their robbery division detectives.”

The big break came when an eyewitness to one of the Virginia Beach robberies saw two armed, masked suspects, both dressed in camouflage clothing (as used in one of the two Gates County robberies), leaving the scene. That eyewitness followed the suspect vehicle and watched as it ran through a red light.

“Fortunately, it was one of those traffic signals with a camera to nab those drivers that run through red lights,” Webb said. “The Virginia Beach Police used that camera to capture the license plate number on that suspect vehicle, leading them to a residence in the Green Run section of Virginia Beach.”

Surveillance was set up on that vehicle and a search warrant was obtained for the residence. Webb said the search produced evidence connected to the Virginia Beach robberies. However, one of the most intriguing pieces of evidence discovered was news articles printed off the wvec.com website.

“Those articles pertained to the robberies we had here in Gates County,” Webb noted. “That led us to believe we had who we were looking for.”

Later, Webb petitioned the Virginia Beach courts and obtained a search warrant.

“We used that warrant to locate a bolt action shotgun in the residence,” Webb said. “We believe that is the ‘long gun’ as described by witnesses in our robberies. We also located other evidence that is consistent with our two robberies.”

In the meantime, Virginia Beach Police had already collected the camouflage clothing and ski masks found in the residence.

While the two men under arrest and the third being sought all have Suffolk and Norfolk addresses, Webb said at least one has a Gates County connection.

“Mr. Watford grew up in Corapeake,” Webb noted.

The timeline of the string of robberies is as follows:

Sept. 7 – Gates IGA Family Foods Grocery

Sept. 11 – Family Foods Convenience Store in Corapeake

Sept. 17 – 7-11 in the 1700 block of Independence Boulevard, Virginia Beach

Sept. 19 – Sal’s Pizza, 1900 block of Independence Boulevard, Virginia Beach

Sept. 20 – 7-11, 3700 block of Tiffany Lane, Virginia Beach

Sept. 20 – Lukoil gas station, 400 block of Green Meadows Drive, Virginia Beach. Note: A gas station clerk was shot in the hold-up.

Watford is charged by Virginia Beach authorities with two counts of armed robbery, one count of malicious wounding, three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, two counts of wearing a mask, and two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony.

Beach Police charged Knight with three counts of armed robbery, one count of abduction, one count of discharging a firearm in a building, three counts of wearing a mask, and two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony.

Perry has outstanding warrants for armed robbery, malicious wounding, wearing a mask, and two counts of conspiracy to commit a felony. As of now, he is only charged in the Lukoil shooting.

Webb said he is currently in the process of going to the Gates County Grand Jury for indictments against the men.

“I’m very proud of the way my guys worked this case here on our end and for the great cooperation with the Virginia Beach Police, Webb said. “All those long hours paid off.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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