Last Updated: Wednesday, 10:33 a.m.
GameStop, the store along the Target shopping center adjacent to Kay Jewelers on one side and Bath & Body Works on the other, was the target of a robbery shortly after 11 Tuesday morning. The Sheriff’s Office issued an alert urging residents to avoid the area.
The incident drew a heavy law enforcement response to the area. The assailant, a white male, did not get far: he was apprehended and placed under arrest in a matter of minutes after the robbery. He was identified Wednesday as a 15-year-old student enrolled in the Rise Up Program, an alternative program at the Flagler County Youth Center on the Flagler Palm Coast High School campus.
The incident was reported from within the store–the world’s largest video game and electronics retailer with nearly 5,000 stores worldwide and $5 billion in revenue last year–when the man, believed to have attended a youth recovery program in the past, showed his gun, or what appeared to be a gun, to someone in the store and said he wanted the money in the register. A store employee complied, handing over $353. The man took the money and left, heading toward Flagler Palm Coast High School, according to a sheriff’s spokesperson. Authorities informed the school.
The assailant then discarded the gun, which turned out to be a replica. He was apprehended soon after that as he was walking back into FPC’s campus, where the school resource officer noticed him speaking to the guard at the school’s entrance. The 15 year old’s description matched the one the officer had heard in a be-on-the-lookout alert.
A bodycam video shows sheriff’s deputies converging on the SRD and the assailant as the SRD was handcuffing the boy, who was sprawled on the ground at the school’s entrance.
“I ditched the gun,” the boy is heard telling the deputy.
“Where did you put it?” the deputy asked him. The boy mentioned “water,” what proved to be the area of the bridge near Olive Garden. “It’s not real,” he told the deputies. The boy identified himself to the deputies and was read his rights.
The stolen money was recovered. Whether a gun is a fake or an actual firearm, under Florida law, a robbery is prosecuted as an armed robbery either way, since the victims of the robbery are not aware of the nature of weapon.
The district’s chief spokesman had not been made aware of the police situation nearby when contacted within an hour of the incident. No alerts were issued at the school. But the incident was resolved within minutes of the robbery. The school’s principal later in the afternoon recorded a robocall informing parents of the incident, but not of the location of the arrest, and directed all inquiries to the Sheriff’s Office.
A sheriff’s release on Wednesday indicates the 15 year old was charged in 2019 by the Bunnell Police Department for Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon Without Intent to Kill and conspiracy to commit murder. He participated in a Residential Treatment Program with the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and was put on probation.
“This kid attempted an armed robbery in the middle of the day and thankfully no one was hurt,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “This kid is on his way to being a lifelong serious criminal. I hope the juvenile justice system can get him turned around before it’s too late and he spends his life in prison or he seriously hurts someone.”
At least one store nearby to the GameShop closed until informed it was safe to reopen. By 12:35 p.m., the crime scene near where the gun was recovered was dismantled.