This image from video surveillance cameras at a Target superstore was used to help catch four people accused in an armed robbery against a local woman.
LAKELAND – A 68-year-old woman was leaving her home in Lakeland around 5:30 one Sunday evening, when two men walked up to her and pointed a gun at her. The only thing they said was “Give me the money” before striking the woman in the face with the gun, taking her money and personal belongings, and fleeing the scene.
That was on June 10. The woman got robbed a second time, by the same assailants, a few weeks later, detectives say.
On Tuesday, July 2, the victim became a lot safer, when four people were taken into custody by Polk County Sheriff’s Office Robbery detectives, and charged for their involvement in multiple crimes against the woman.
“Several suspects are in custody at this time and are being interviewed by Polk County Sheriff’s Office Robbery detectives,” noted Carrie Eleazor, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, in her report on the case.
“We are no longer seeking the public’s help in identifying the man in the video, or the suspects responsible for these robberies.”
Among those arrested were Edison Gomez and Judith Fuentes of Lakeland. Fuentes is Gomez’ girlfriend and, Eleazor said, “lied to detectives regarding Gomez’s whereabouts and involvement during the investigation.”
Also charged was Larry Edwards, who detectives say drove Gomez to the victims home for one of the robberies.
“Edwards later used credit cards from the theft in area stores,” Eleazor said.
Edison Gomez, 36, of 225 Tuscarora St. in Lakeland, was charged with burglary of a home, theft, and two counts of credit card fraud.
Larry Edwards, 61, of 3130 Strawberry Lane in Lakeland, faces the same charges.
Judith Fuentes, 30, of 225 Tuscarora St. in Lakeland, was charged with resisting arrest without violence.
Last month, robbery detectives asked for the public’s help in solving these two violent armed robberies, where the same victim got targeted twice in one month. The woman had told detectives she was assaulted by two men armed with a black semi-automatic handgun.
One of the men, later identified by detectives as Edwards, attempted to use the victim’s stolen credit card at a nearby Target store, but the card was denied. He was seen in video surveillance cameras from Target, walking out of the store, wearing a grey T-shirt, orange shorts, flip flops, and a blue hat that says “NAVY” on it.
The sheriff’s office distributed an image from the video to the media in the hope that a viewer would see it and recognize the man.
The second robbery, detectives say, happened on Sunday, July 1 around 8:40 a.m. when the woman was leaving her house to attend church. Once again, she got confronted by an armed suspect who demanded money.
This time the man with the gun struck the victim on her head and pushed her back into her home.
“He then removed cash from the victim’s nightstand and fled the area on foot,” Eleazor said. ”The victim suffered minor injuries from being struck.”
Detectives said Edwards drove Gomez to the victim’s home, where Gomez “accosted her with a black handgun as she left for church,” Eleazor said. “Gomez struck the victim in the face and stole her purse and fled.”
A third man, Lylod Gainey, 51, of 117 N. Davis Ave. in Lakeland, was also arrested and charged with forgery and uttering a forged instrument. Detectives say Gainey later cashed money orders from the robbery.
Edwards and Gomez were also charged with robbery with a firearm and burglary with battery.

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