Fast-food holdup suspect is recognized by ex-wife, arrested

  • Article by: KELLY SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 18, 2013 - 9:37 PM

Man’s ex-wife called police after recognizing his clothes in surveillance video.

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Video surveillance from Wednesday’s holdup of Burger King in Maple Grove.

Photo: Maple Grove police

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A Sartell, Minn., man was charged Friday with robbing a string of fast-food restaurants and electronics stores after his ex-wife recognized him on news reports and reported him to police, authorities said.

Douglas Wayne Gravelle, 34, is being held in the Wright County jail, charged with aggravated robbery and kidnapping. Police have tied him to seven robberies and attempted robberies from the Twin Cities to St. Cloud over the past six weeks, according to the criminal complaint. More than $8,000 and dozens of electronics and phones were stolen.

After an armed robbery Wednesday of a Burger King in Maple Grove, police released surveillance video to news organizations. Gravelle’s ex-wife saw the video and told police that he was wearing the same clothes just a few hours later at a child support hearing in Washington County.

She told police that Gravelle is addicted to prescription medications, including oxycodone, and is paying $200 a month in child support despite being unemployed.

According to the criminal complaint, the spree of robberies began Sept. 7 when a Burger King was robbed in Sauk Rapids. On Sept. 14, a ­robber took $500 and employees’ cellphones at a Subway in Big Lake. And on Sept. 19, police said that a man tried to rob a Burger King employee in a Clearwater parking lot but that she drove off before he got in her car.

The same day, police said, a man robbed a Burger King in Monticello, taking money and phones, totaling $1,644. Then on Sept. 26, a robber struck a GameStop store in St. Cloud, taking $2,600 in cash and electronics, including 84 video games and the employee’s cellphone. On Oct. 5, a man robbed a GameStop retail store in Monticello, taking $1,800 in cash and electronics, including two Wii video game consoles, 10 iPods, two iPhones and 67 video games. He ordered the employees into a storage area before fleeing the scene, the complaint said.

In all the cases, witnesses gave police similar physical descriptions of the robber, who always wore a black ski mask and carried a handgun.

After the Maple Grove Burger King was robbed Wednesday, police released surveillance video to news media, and the following day, Gravelle’s ex-wife called police, recognizing his clothing and car in the video, according to the criminal complaint.

The suspect was being sought by police in Maple Grove, Sauk Rapids, Big Lake and Sartell as well as by the Central Minnesota Drug Task Force, Stearns County Sheriff’s Office, Anoka-Hennepin Drug Task Force and Wright County Sheriff’s Office.

Police arrested Gravelle on Thursday, finding stolen electronics and clothing that matched the description from witnesses, the complaint said. He has a record that includes convictions for marijuana and, last year, aggravated robbery.

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