Crime & Courts

GPS on 82 stolen phones from Wichita Sprint store helped police catch armed robbers

What happens when you call 911? Use these tips for better emergency response

Do you know what to do if you accidentally dial 911? Do you know what information is crucial in an emergency? Here's what you need to know to get the police, fire or ambulance service you need fast.
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Do you know what to do if you accidentally dial 911? Do you know what information is crucial in an emergency? Here's what you need to know to get the police, fire or ambulance service you need fast.

Two suspected robbers accused of stealing 82 cellphones at gunpoint from a Wichita store and zip-tying employees were caught with the help of GPS, a police detective said.

Camarin McPherson and Xavier Lopez allegedly stole the $63,000 worth of phones and $1,000 from a Sprint Wireless store before they were arrested after a police chase and crash. Both men were charged in federal court with one count of interference with commerce by means of robbery, and McPherson faces an additional charge of using a firearm during a Hobbs Act robbery.

Emergency crews responded to an armed robbery at around 10:15 a.m. Thursday at the Sprint Wireless store at 530 S. West St. Police said two employees were zip-tied.

An officer tried to pull over an SUV after the robbery, but the vehicle led cops on a chase in west Wichita, and the SUV crashed into a box truck. The driver and a passenger ran from the wreck, but both were arrested, police said.

Booking reports identified them as McPherson, 25, and Lopez, 26.

One employee told investigators that he was working at the store when the electricity was shut off and a masked man walked in armed with a handgun, a Wichita police detective wrote in an affidavit filed in federal court. The man demanded cash from the safe and phones from the telephone safe.

The robber used zip-ties to bind the employee’s ankles and hands together, and he was left lying in a back room of the store, according to the court document. Though the robbers took 82 phones from the store, they didn’t steal the employee’s phone. He used it to call 911 after the robbers left.

By the time the employee called, dispatchers had already started to received GPS pings from one of the phone boxes taken during the robbery, the detective wrote. Dispatchers informed officers of the reported robbery and GPS pings.

One officer was, using information from the GPS pings, in the area of 13th and Edwards. Police did not yet have a description of a suspect vehicle, but a man driving a Ford Explorer “made eye contact with the officer and appeared to have an expression of panic on his face,” the detective wrote.

The officer then followed the Ford, and observed that the movements of the stolen GPS-enabled device mirrored the speeds and directions of the SUV, the detective wrote. When the officer turned on his patrol vehicle’s lights and sirens, the SUV’s driver failed to pull over. The ensuing police chase ended in a wreck at Kellogg and Meridian.

The driver, identified as McPherson, was arrested after a short foot chase. The passenger, identified as Lopez, was arrested nearby. Investigators found a loaded handgun near McPherson, and his phone had a police scanner app that was actively monitoring Wichita and Sedgwick County dispatch channels.

The gun, a Glock model 19, was reported stolen under a Wichita police case.

When the suspected robbers were taken to police headquarters, officers found six bags of a white powder that tested positive for cocaine in McPherson’s wallet.

Both McPherson and Lopez have prior criminal convictions in Kansas, according to Department of Corrections records.

McPherson, who also goes by the alias “Killa Cam,” has 17 prior convictions in Sedgwick County, two in Butler County and one in Johnson County, according to prison records. The convictions include 15 counts of theft, three criminal possession of a firearm, one attempted burglary and one battery against a law enforcement officer. He was released from prison and onto supervised release in January.

Lopez, who also goes by the aliases “X” and “Cloud,” has convictions in 2014 cases of drug possession, driving while suspended and escape from custody, according to KDOC records. He was released from prison in May 2018, then was on supervision before his sentence expired in December.

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