Cromwell community reacts to online exchange armed robbery

A business owner says the resort is mostly peaceful, but the incident worries him and highlights the importance of security cameras.

CROMWELL, Connecticut – Two people from Middletown were arrested and charged with robbing a man in the parking lot of River Center Plaza in Cromwell on Sunday.

Cromwell Police say the victim met the suspects in the afternoon to sell a pair of shoes. Carmen Rogers, 21, is accused of taking the shoes when Julio Oquendo, 20, pointed a gun at the victim. The two were later found at their Middletown home and arrested.

They face a number of charges including theft and theft as well as conspiracy to commit theft and robbery. Oquendo faces additional charges of criminal use of a firearm and possession of ammunition. They are both being held on bail and are due in court on Tuesday.

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“It’s not a bad neighborhood, number one, so I don’t know what to make of this kind of dangerous situation,” said Timely Cleaners co-owner Sansook Cho. “I’m shocked and worried. This is a parking lot of peace. City of peace and now we have to watch and make sure what’s going on around me.”

Jenna Nikirk, Avon, says this type of incident is not surprising but scary and makes her think twice about meeting someone she doesn’t know.

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“My parents live in the area, so it’s not exciting because you feel like you’ve moved to a safe place,” she said. “I know things are happening everywhere you go, but you hope that wherever you are, the places around you will be safe and armed robbery will not happen in the middle of a place.”

She said she doesn’t go it alone when selling items online. Police recommend people transact in person during the day in a public space where other people are. Many police stations also have 24-hour guarded areas specifically for online transactions.

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The Cromwell complex does not have cameras that face the parking lot. Many businesses have cameras that overlook the inside of their store. Cho says the resort should consider installing them.

“I wouldn’t worry about safety, but I’ll be careful,” Cho said. “We have to make sure we are more careful here.”

Tony Black is a multimedia reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.

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