A Champlin man who terrorized store employees across the Twin Cities last year was found guilty of robbery and attempted robbery on Friday.
Martavis Shawn Demar James' crime spree began in March 2018. The 38-year-old would wear a black hooded coat, a black mask and black gloves as he robbed the businesses, most of them CVS Pharmacies in Anoka, Hennepin and Ramsey counties, according to the U.S. District Attorney's office. He also hit a Dollar Tree Store in Coon Rapids and a Blaine Big Lots.
Each time his robberies were successful, James pointed a firearm at employees, demanded access to a safe, and then ordered the employees to put the money in a duffel bag as he fled.
Minneapolis Police Department investigators and federal agents began investigating the case as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, where local, federal and state officers collaborate on violent crime cases.
After getting information on the robberies, investigators suspected James and began tracking him, according to federal prosecutors. Officers followed him to a CVS on June 1, where he tried to get in. After finding the doors were locked by law enforcement and CVS security, James went back to his car, where he was arrested.
A federal jury convicted him of eight counts of robbery, and two counts of attempted robbery after a four-day trial.
"Over the course of several weeks, Mr. James carried out a brazen crime wave across the Twin Cities, targeting businesses in densely populated areas and robbing employees at gunpoint," U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said in a statement. "Under the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, I have dedicated significant resources to pursuing violent criminals and combating gun-related violent crime such as this. When it comes to protecting our communities, we will not relent."