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Police issue warrants in armed robbery

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By Chris Sardelli

Authorities have identified a man they believe was involved in the armed assault of a motorist outside a Lancaster gas station early Saturday, July 13.

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Police have issued arrest warrants on Donald Joseph Wheeler III, 27, for the charges of attempted carjacking and possession of a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, according to a Lancaster Police Department press release. 

Lancaster Police Capt. Scott Grant revealed the charges on Tuesday afternoon, about four days after the assault, and said Wheeler had not yet been found. 

Investigators have been searching for two men in the assault, which happened just after 3 a.m. outside the Citgo, at 1200 N. Main St., the release said.

Officers responded to the gas station parking lot at 3:14 a.m. and spoke with the victim who said he was pumping gas when an unknown white man approached him. 

The man asked if he could look at the wheels on the victim’s car. The victim said he could and the man acted as if he was checking them out, the release said.

The man then pulled out a handgun and placed it against the victims’ neck.

“The victim began resisting the suspect and the two wrestled across the parking lot and over a hill at the end of the parking lot,” Grant said in the release.

A second man followed them over the hill, though the two men eventually withdrew from the victim and drove away from the station in a burgundy Ford Explorer, the release said.

The victim received minor bruises and cuts from the struggle.

The first man, who approached the victim and put the handgun to his head, is described as having dark hair, while the second man has short, lighter hair. 

In surveillance photos taken at the scene, the first man is seen wearing a jacket over a t-shirt, long shorts that extend to his ankles, white socks and dark shoes. He has short dark hair and long sideburns. 

A wanted poster released Tuesday shows a photo of the first man next to a photo of Wheeler. 

A photo taken inside the store shows the second man wearing a long-sleeve black t-shirt with a blue, green and white design on the front, as well as long pants. 

Police also released a 25-second clip from a surveillance video outside the gas station moments before the assault. The man with dark hair is seen standing near the station’s front door, digging in his pockets and watching customers as they walk inside. He eventually walks toward a car outside the camera’s frame. 

Anyone with information about the assault, the location of Wheeler or the identity of the other man is asked to call the police department at (803) 283-1173 or the department’s anonymous tip line at (803) 289-6040.

 

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416

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