A Street man was arrested Tuesday in connection with one of three recent convenience store robberies in northern Harford County — and briefly escaped police custody — but authorities are still searching for a second person they believe committed the robbery.
William Preston Grace Jr., 32, of the 1200 block of Trappe Road in Street, has been charged in the robbery of the Royal Farms in the 3600 block of Conowingo Road in Street last Friday, the Harford County Sheriff’s Office said. The convenience store is less than two miles from Grace’s home.
“We believe at least one other person was involved who was carrying the knife,” Kyle Andersen, public information officer for the Sheriff’s Office, said. “We continue to investigate the identity of any other suspects involved.”
A suspect walked into the Royal Farms around 2 a.m., allegedly with a “chef’s” knife, and demanded cash from the register, according to the charging documents. After being handed $220, he ran out out of the store.
A store clerk told police the suspect left the store and ran toward the west side of the building then behind it. Deputies tracked the suspect north along Conowingo Road but lost the trail, according to charging documents.
Seconds after the robbery, a man later identified as Grace bought $1 worth of gas after the suspect left the store, the clerk told police.
In surveillance video, the manager and assistant manager of the store identified Grace as the man who bought the gas, according to charging documents. He was using the same vehicle that dropped off the robbery suspect before the robbery and “then presumably” picked up the suspect after the robbery, according to the documents.
Detectives searched a residence in the 1200 block of Trappe Road in Street on Tuesday, according to the news release. Grace was not there, but was found in the 3500 block of Smith Road about five miles away a short time later and taken into custody, the sheriff’s office said.
Jeremy Grace, 30, who lives at the same address as William Grace, and two other people were at the house during the search, according to the charging documents.
He was identified as a possible suspect in the robbery and was taken to the sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division to “provide a statement regarding his involvement in the robbery,” charging documents said.
Jeremy Grace was not charged in connection with the Royal Farms robbery but was charged with illegal possession of ammunition. During the search, police found several rounds of 22 caliber ammunition and a box of center-fire rounds. Jeremy Grace is prohibited from possessing firearms and/or ammunition because of a 2007 drug conviction in York County, Pennsylvania, and a 2010 theft conviction in Harford, according to charging documents.
He was taken to Harford County Detention Center and released on his own recognizance.
William Grace was taken to the sheriff’s Criminal Investigations Division for questioning. While in custody, Grace was able to escape at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
According to charging documents, Grace was put in a room and handcuffed to a table. He allegedly banged the cuffs against the ring that held them to the table, which broke one off his wrist, police said.
He allegedly left the room through an office window, grabbing a key fob along the way, according to charging documents.
The key fob was to a 2019 Chevy Tahoe that was not on the lot when Grace allegedly escaped, according to charging documents.
Grace ran toward a child care center and deputies found him less than a mile away, in the 400 block of Granary Road in Forest Hill, about 30 minutes later.
He has been charged with armed robbery, robbery, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and other related charges. Additionally, he was charged with vandalism, theft and first- and second-degree escape, the release said.
Grace is being held without bail at the Harford County Detention Center.
Detectives are investigating whether Grace is connected to two other convenience store robberies in northern Harford County in recent days.
The same Royal Farms was also robbed at 3:20 a.m. Sunday, according to the sheriff’s office.
In that incident, deputies were told an unknown male approached an employee and demanded money. The suspect fled the store in the direction of northbound Route 1 with an undisclosed amount of cash, police said.
The third robbery was reported about 5 miles away in Darlington. The High’s store in the 1200 block of Main Street reported at 10:50 p.m. Sunday that it had been robbed.
An unknown male, described as having a muscular build, entered the store, approached an employee and demanded money, according to police. The robbery fled in an unknown direction with an undisclosed amount of cash. No weapons were believed to be used, police said.
No injuries were reported as a result of any of the robberies.