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Two indicted in Forest Park pawn-shop robbery

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Two men suspected in a string of metro Atlanta pawn-shop robberies have been indicted in the April robbery of a Forest Park pawn shop.

A Clayton County grand jury indicted Markell Deshawn Rawles, 22, of Ellenwood, and Kalu Tumi Owens Onumah, 25, of Morrow, Wednesday, on 36 counts, including armed robbery, aggravated assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

Onumah was indicted on three additional charges of obstruction of a law enforcement officer, violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

According to warrantless arrest affidavits filed by Forest Park Police Officer Randy Groenewold, Rawles and Onumah, along with two other unidentified men, robbed several employees and customers at gunpoint, April 1, at the Pawn Mart, located at 4679 Jonesboro Rd., in Forest Park.

"Upon entrance to the business, they had all of the customers and employees lay down on the floor," Lt. James Delk, of the Forest Park Police Department, said in April.

"They were all moved to the back office. That's where the safe was kept. After obtaining money and jewelry, they [the suspects] exited the business," Delk said.

Police arrived as the four suspects fled the scene on foot, according to Delk. Following a foot pursuit, authorities took Onumah and Rawles into custody, he said.

Onumah and Rawles continued to be held in the Clayton County Jail on Friday, according to jail officials.

The two other suspects in the Forest Park robbery got away, and remain at large, according to Georgia Bureau of Investigation Agent Jesse Maddox. The GBI was brought in to assist in the case, due to the involvement of multiple jurisdictions, according to Delk.

In April, authorities released surveillance photos of three unidentified men, who remain at large, and who are believed to be involved in the metro-area burglary ring. The theft ring is suspected in robberies at pawn shops in Forest Park, Stockbridge and Atlanta, according to GBI officials. Delk said the same burglary ring is also suspected in the Feb. 4, day-time robbery of the Pawn Mart, located at 7471 Ga. Highway 85, in Riverdale.

In that incident, one man was shot and several others were pepper-sprayed. The shooting victim, Javon Russell, was shot once in the wrist and once in the back, and was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital, according to a police report. Riverdale Police identified Russell as the store manager.

In April, the new store manager at the Riverdale-area Pawn Mart, Sharking Isaac, said that Russell no longer worked at the store, but that he was doing fine and was "home walking around."

Onumah's attorney, Marc Pilgirm, said Friday that he and his client plan to fight the case "vigorously. Ironically, there was an eyewitness that says it definitely was not my client, who was at the scene when the robbery occurred," Pilgrim said. "The officer was supposed to have a video of them running from the scene with the items in their hand, but that video has not surfaced. My client did not have any of the proceeds from the robbery on him," he said.

Pilgrim said he expects that Onumah will be arraigned within the next two months.

Rawles' attorney, Stanley Schoolcraft, could not be reached for comment Friday.

Anyone with information in the robbery cases, is asked to call Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Benjie Fennell, at (770) 388-5019, or the Forest Park Police Criminal Investigations Division, at (404) 608-2366.