Brandon Hubbert is a 27-year-old young father who likes fine clothes and is proud of his young daughter, whose portrait adorns his Facebook page. He lived on Elm Avenue in Bunnell. For a time, he worked at the Staples store on Old Kings Road in Palm Coast, before losing that job and commuting to Jacksonville for another job.
Early this morning—just after midnight—Hubbert turned himself in at the Flagler County jail on three first-degree felonies and a third-degree felony stemming from his alleged armed robbery and assault at Staples almost exactly a year ago, following an elaborate plan allegedly to stake out his former place of employment and rob the store manager just after closing time, when the money was being counted. If convicted, he could spend the next 30 years in prison.
The armed robbery, barely publicized at the time, took place the evening of Sept. 11, 2015. Flagler County detectives were able to reconstruct the events of that evening based on surveillance video, the pinging of Hubbert’s cell phone, statements from the victim, and clues Hubbert left at the scene and unwittingly revealed on his Facebook page. The following account is based on the detective’s summary in Hubbert’s arrest report.
Hubbert arrived in the area of the Staples store, at 9 Old Kings Road, at 6:36 p.m. that evening. Just before 8 p.m., he was captured on Bealls Outlet’s surveillance video walking in front of that store and heading toward Staples, wearing a gray Florida State Seminoles sweatshirt with its hoodie tight around his face. He wore blue jeans and white shoes and carried a call phone that, judging from the video, appeared “illuminated,” or in use.
One of the store employees, a 22-year-old woman, saw him walk into the store, go straight down the center aisle and head toward the back. The line of sight from the front to the back of the store is obstructed by numerous shelves.
The store closed at 9 p.m. David Miller, the 28-year-old Tech Services supervisor, was counting money in the front office, at the southwest corner of the store. Hubbert had been hiding in the back storage bay area, from where he emerged, unbeknownst to others in the store, knocking down boxes of merchandise and at one point stepping on a box and leaving behind the distinctive, waffle-patterned shoeprint and shoe size that would eventually help tie him to the alleged crime, among other evidence. He made his way to the front office, again without others in the store seeing him, entered the office and pointed a small, black, semi-automatic gun at Miller, whom he addressed by his first name: he knew him.
Hubbert ordered Miller to disconnect the store phone and place money bags into Hubbert’s book bag. He got about $1,500. Hubbert than ordered Miller to the ground and took his cell phone, preventing him from calling 911. He told him to count out loud. Hubbert than walked back out the way he came, through the store and toward the back—again without others in the store seeing him—and kicked open a rear-back door, damaging it, before fleeing the scene. Staples employees gave sheriff’s deputies his name, saying his description fit that of an employee who’d worked there two or three years before.
From there, detectives found Hubbert’s Facebook page, where he calls himself “Brandon Bigg B Hubbert,” and posted several pictures of himself wearing a sweatshirt similar to the ones seen in the Bealls surveillance video. Detectives then found his phone number by matching it to a pawn broker transaction Hubbert had conducted in Jacksonville two weeks before the robbery. Hubbert had freely given his phone number to the pawn broker at the time. That led detectives to the phone number’s cell records and pinging hits the evening of the robbery, three of which were around Staples.
Detectives interviewed him on May 10, when he acknowledged having worked at that Staples store years before, working—among other assignments —in the back storage bay. His shoes, the detective noted, matched in size and pattern the one whose imprint had been left on a box. He would not provide a reason as to his presence in the area of the store that evening or a current residency in Jacksonville, saying he often stays in hotels there. During the interview, the arrest report notes, Hubbert “showed signs of being nervous and had two outbreaks of burping.” The detective concluded he was “showing signs of deception.”
In early June detectives visited Hubbert’s mother on Elm Street in Bunnell, who told the cops that her son works in Jacksonville but still lives in Bunnell. Hubbert’s mother got on the phone and, according to the report, yelled at him and confronted him with the allegations against him. “Brandon Hubbert does not deny being involved and states that his child will be taken care of,” the report states.
A circuit judge signed the warrant for Hubbert’s arrest on Wednesday on four counts: Armed robbery, armed burglary, aggravated assault and tampering with a witness. He remains at the Flagler County jail on $110,000 bond.
It was the second arrest of an individual who’d worked at that Staples store in less than two years. In January 2015, Robert Harper, a store manager, was arrested on charges of grand theft in a defrauding scheme involving about $3,000 of the store’s money. He confessed, completed a pre-trial intervention program through the court system, and in April the charge, a third-degree felony, was dropped.