Trio robbed Loop convenience store — then one returned to blast the clerk with pepper spray, prosecutors say

A woman and two men are charged with a convenience store robbery in the Loop this week that left the shop’s employee reeling from the effects of pepper spray. One of the accused men has been arrested 12 times this year in Chicago, mainly in the Loop.

Police responded to a call of about a dozen people swarming the store and stealing items at the store, 343 South Dearborn, around 10:45 p.m. Thursday.

Left to right: Aaliyah Brown, Larone Williams, and Tavaris Cobbins | CPD

Officers searched the area and detained Aaliyah Brown, 21, Larone Williams, 35, and Tavaris Cobbins, 31, at the Jackson Red Line station because the trio matched the offenders’ descriptions.

Prosecutors said the three took items from the store’s shelves, and Williams struck and pushed a cashier who told them that they had to pay for the merchandise.

All three fled the store, but Brown returned moments later to blast the clerk in the face with pepper spray, according to the allegations.

Police allegedly recovered store merchandise worth $38 from the trio. The clerk also identified them, and store surveillance cameras recorded the incident, prosecutors said.

Williams has been arrested 12 times in the city, including four times for retail theft, in 2021. One of those arrests was made on the evening before the 7-Eleven robbery at the Roosevelt CTA station. He was charged with misdemeanor battery in that case, CPD records show. According to prosecutors, he was convicted of criminal sexual assault by force in 2011 and felony theft in the same year.

His public defender said he is the father of six and hopes to begin working as a painter for a relative’s business.

Brown has no adult convictions, but she was adjudicated delinquent as a juvenile for unlawful use of a weapon. Her public defender argued that the pepper-spraying took place separately from the merchandise theft and should be considered a battery instead of robbery. She lives with her fiancée, has two children, and studies health care.

Cobbins’ criminal background includes a 2012 conviction for aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and 2009 convictions for aggravated robbery and burglary. According to his attorney, he is experiencing housing instability and is recovering from gunshot wounds.

All three are charged with robbery and armed robbery. Judge David Navarro set bail for each at $100,000. They must post individual deposits of $10,000 to get out of jail.

Convenience stores across the city have been hard-hit by crime lately. A firebomber set a 7-Eleven store in the Loop on fire after confronting a store worker last weekend. The employee and another person were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, and the store was totaled. No arrests have been announced.

And a serial armed robber who committed more than 20 hold-ups across the city in the past four weeks frequently targeted convenience stores. Authorities believe the person who committed those crimes is in custody after police arrested him Tuesday, just two hours after he allegedly robbed a convenience store in Little Village.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com