WHITE BEAR LAKE — One of two robbers of an auto parts store was sentenced to 20 years in prison on six counts of interfering with commerce by robbery in federal court May 29.
Tony Lendell Reed, 33, of Tennessee, was also ordered to pay about $11,500 in restitution for six robberies of auto parts stores across the Twin Cities, according to court documents.
The last of Reed’s Minnesota robbery spree took place in White Bear Lake in November 2017 after he spent several months targeting auto parts stores in the metro area. His accomplice that day, Tyrell Dandre Campbell, 24, of Minneapolis, pleaded guilty to one count of interfering with commerce by robbery and will be sentenced June 11. Two other men have pleaded guilty to involvement in the other robberies. A jury found Reed guilty in February. He fled the Twin Cities in 2017 and allegedly robbed five businesses in Chicago and Mississippi before he was caught in Tennessee.
Reed used the act of armed robbery “like a personal ATM” and gave a “profanity-laced outburst” and “ludicrous version of events” at his trial, according to U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald, who recommended a sentence near the top of the guidelines for the crime.
Multiple types of evidence trace robbers
Campbell and Reed entered O'Reilly Auto Parts on County Road E in White Bear Lake just before closing time Nov. 29, 2017, according to court documents. One had a handgun and the other said he did. They made the three employees lie face down; the hands of two employees were zip tied behind their backs. The third employee was told to empty the safe while a gun was held to the employee's back. They then secured the third employee with zip ties and fled with about $3,000.
One of the employees escaped the zip ties and fired at them with a gun as they ran away. He was lawfully in possession of a small-caliber handgun.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) DNA-tested zip ties used in some of the other robberies. The results were linked to Reed, according to court documents. The Minnesota FBI obtained call records from Reed’s cell phone via court order. Federal investigators built their case around the cell phone data, which showed the phone had been in close proximity to each of the robberies.
White Bear Lake Police Detective Ryan George said at a community meeting earlier this spring that the police department put out a post for community information on the case and witnesses came forward. On Nov. 29, one of the defendants asked residents in White Bear Lake to use their cell phone because he was running from gunshots. He had emerged from the woods sweaty and covered with leaves, the witnesses reported. They allowed him to use their cell phone. Cell phone data showed he called the same number that had just called his phone minutes earlier.
George reviewed surveillance video from a nearby apartment building that showed a man speaking to the two people. A person in the video looked similar to Campbell. An officer found $100 along the path between the store and where he emerged from the woods. The bill was folded and clipped like those kept at the store.
George collected evidence from the scene, including the zip ties. They were sent to the BCA for testing. A small piece of blue latex glove was found in the zip tie. The DNA profiled matched Campbell's.
Campbell went to the Hennepin County Medical Center to be treated for a gunshot wound Dec. 2, according to court documents. He told the nurse he got high on narcotics the night before. He said he was at a party where he heard a gunshot and woke up with back pain. He refused to provide additional information to police about the gunshot wound.
The White Bear Lake Police Department found four shell casings in the area where the employee said he shot at the suspects, George said. The employee said he thought he hit one of the suspects. In 2018, a resident in the area found a black winter coat in his backyard under a brush pile. There was a small hole in the bottom of the coat.
The maximum sentence for the single charge of interfering with commerce by robbery is 20 years in prison.
Employee did not act in self-defense
The employee who fired at Campbell was not technically acting in self-defense, George said. But he was not charged with any crime because no victim presented themselves, he noted. “If someone is an immediate threat, that would constitute self-dense,” he explained. “It was not self-defense because (Campbell) was leaving.”
Although you don't need a permit to carry to possess a weapon in your business or home, the police department recommends letting robbers leave and to call the police. Their follow-up work can catch robbers.
“Our biggest goal is we don't want anybody hurt,” said Sgt. John Vette. “It's not worth a few thousand dollars to put yourself at harm if they retaliate,” George added. They recommend businesses use surveillance video to catch criminals.