Local woman and her son are victims of armed robbery

OKEECHOBEE — A local woman and her young son were reportedly robbed at gun point as they were loading groceries into the rear of their vehicle in the Walmart parking lot on Sunday, Jan. 20, at approximately 9:20 p.m. The victim reported that as she was putting the groceries into her SUV, a male approached her, pointed a hand gun at her head, began yelling obscenities at her and told her to give him her purse. The victim said she was terrified and screamed for her young son to run. He ran and hid under another vehicle, and the victim told the man she did not have a purse but gave him her Coach wallet. She said the man then got back into a silver car and left the parking lot. The victim said the man was wearing dark clothing with a black hoodie type jacket with the hood pulled over his head.

Two witnesses confirmed the victim’s account of the incident and added that the male was the passenger in the silver car, a Nissan Altima. One of the witnesses also reported hearing a woman’s voice from inside the silver car and believed a woman was driving.

The Walmart security officer, Joyce Teich, was able to supply security footage which showed the robbery and confirmed the victim’s statement.

Enroute to the scene, OPD Sgt. Aurelio Almazan noticed the car sitting at a red light and activated his overhead lights, made a U-turn and attempted to initiate a traffic stop. At that point, the vehicle reportedly drove through the red light and continued on until turning in to the Utah Apartment complex on Northeast 11th Street. The suspect then reportedly fled into an apartment, barricading himself inside with four small children, ages 3 months, 5 years, 6 years and 7 years.

A perimeter was established around the building, and the SWAT team along with a hostage negotiator was called. The suspect, Johnny Lewis Hunter, Jr., 27, of Northwest Fourth Street, finally surrendered on Jan. 21 at approximately 12:24 a.m. He was arrested and charged with robbery with a firearm. No bond has been set.

Johnny Lewis Hunter, Jr. 27

The driver of the vehicle, Brunesha Bruce, 24, from Belle Glade, was also charged with armed robbery. Her bond was set at $150,000.

Brunesha Bruce, 24

A passenger in the vehicle was questioned and released.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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