A habitual criminal whose violent behavior stretches back to when he was 11 years old has been sentenced to 14 years in prison for robbing at gunpoint three McDonald's restaurants in southeastern Minnesota, each time forcing employees into the walk-in coolers during early morning ambushes.

Christian A. Alexander, 25, of Rochester was sentenced Monday in federal court in St. Paul after pleading guilty to holding up McDonald's restaurants in Byron, Rochester and Winona.

In each case, employees were confronted as they arrived for work, herded into the walk-in cooler and had their cellphones and wallets taken. In total, Alexander and his accomplices came away with less than $6,500.

The first robbery occurred Sept. 19, 2010, in Winona. Alexander and a second masked man struck about 4 a.m.

The other two holdups came 11 days apart in June 2011, the first in Byron. Alexander had an accomplice in that crime, and his gun went off at one point.

Alexander then held up a Rochester McDonald's on his own. After that robbery, police tracked Alexander to his home, where they found him in his vehicle, and arrested him. They found cash on the floor of the vehicle's back seat. Police also seized a gun, ammunition and a couple of McDonald's bags.

Last month, Alexander's accomplice in the Byron holdup, Quiana S. Evans, 30, of Rochester, pleaded guilty. Her sentencing is pending.

Alexander's accomplice in the Winona robbery has not been apprehended.