Crime is up in the COVID-era, and the non-enforcement of existing mask-prohibition laws is complicating investigations: merchants are no longer able to judge intent of mask-wearers and surveillance camera imagery is largely ineffective in apprehending or discouraging masked assailants.
A rash of local armed robberies—several of which included assaults on the victims—now has drawn the attention of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).
A media release from the ATF provides descriptions and pictures of the perpetrators and the offer of a $5,000 reward for “information” about these crimes:
ATF Offers $5,000 Reward for Information about Multiple Armed Robberies in Charlottesville Area
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Washington Field Division announced today a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of individuals responsible for multiple armed robberies in and around the city of Charlottesville. ATF Special Agents are working this investigation alongside detectives from Albemarle County Police Department, as well as from Charlottesville Police Department and Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.
Two black males believed to be in their late teens to early twenties are working as a team and are responsible for the following armed robberies, all in Virginia:
- Thursday, June 18, 7:30 a.m. at the Oak Hill Market & Deli, 667 Country Green Road, Charlottesville.
- Saturday, June 27, 4:30 a.m. at the 7-11, 2025 Ivy Rd, Charlottesville.
- Friday, July 30, 10:40 p.m. at the BP gas station, 1800 Monticello Ave, Charlottesville.
- Friday, August 14, 6:45 a.m. at the 7-11, 385 Greenbrier drive, Charlottesville. The store clerk was assaulted.
- Monday, August 31, 10:00 p.m. at the Kangaroo Express gas station, 1099 E. Rio Road, Charlottesville. The store clerk was assaulted.
- Friday, September 4, 9:49 p.m. at the Subway/7 Day Junior, 111 Maury Ave, Charlottesville. The store clerk was assaulted.
- Sunday, September 13, 5:42 a.m. at the 7-11, 25 Solomon Drive, Stafford.
These two individuals should be considered armed and dangerous. If members of the public think they see them, they should call 911. Anyone with information about them or others who may be involved is asked to contact investigators immediately. To provide tips to ATF Special Agents, call 888-ATF-TIPS (888-283-8477) or send an email to ATFTips@atf.gov. To provide tips to Albemarle County Police Department call Detective Holmes at 434-531-9348 or to Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000.
An arrest in another local spree was trumpeted by Albemarle County within hours of the ATF announcement. Joseph Daniel Key has been charged with multiple crimes in Albemarle County and the City of Charlottesville, as follows:
ACPD and ACFR Joint Investigation Results In Arrest Made In Connection With Multiple Felonies
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA – On September 4, 2020, Albemarle County Fire Rescue responded to a structure fire at Summers Market located on the corner of Rio Road and Earlysville Road. After initial signs showed that a burglary had occurred before the start of the fire, a joint investigation between the Albemarle County Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division and the Albemarle County Fire Rescue’s Office of the Fire Marshal began.
On Friday, September 11, 2020, an investigation was conducted by the Charlottesville Police Department (CPD) after an attempted robbery with a knife occurred, in which a citizen detained the suspected robber. CPD identified 24-year-old Joseph Daniel Key of Albemarle County as the suspect. ACPD and ACFR confirmed Key was also a suspect in the Summers Market incident.
A continued joint investigation confirmed that Key was responsible for several felonies, including the incident at Summers Market, in which he broke into the store and stole multiple items before setting a fire in the building. Key is also responsible for recent breaking and entering incidents on September 9, 2020, at Kirt’s Homemade Ice Cream and Chung’s Barber Shop, both located in Albemarle Square.
Albemarle County Police Department has charged Key with the following:
9/4/2020 Summers Market
- Two (2) counts of VA Code 18.2-91 Breaking and Entering (felony)
- One (1) count VA Code 18.2-95 Grand Larceny (felony)
9/9/2020 Kirt’s Homemade Ice Cream
- One (1) count VA Code 18.2-91 Breaking and Entering (felony)
- One (1) count VA Code 18.2-137 Destruction of Property (misdemeanor)
9/9/2020 Chung’s Barber Shop
- Two (2) counts VA Code 18.2-91 Breaking and Entering (felony)
- One (1) count of VA Code 18.2-137 Destruction of Property (felony)
- One (1) count of VA Code 18.2-96 Larceny (misdemeanor)
Albemarle County Office of the Fire Marshal has charged Key with the following:
9/4/2020 Summers Market
- One (1) count of VA Code 18.2-80 Burning or destroying any other building or structure. (felony)
- One (1) count of VA Code 18.2-82 Burning building or structure while in such building or structure with intent to commit felony. (felony)
- One (1) count of VA Code 18.2-137 Injuring, etc., any property, monument, etc. (felony)
City of Charlottesville Police Department has charged Key with the following:
9/11/2020 BP Gas Station
- One (1) count of VA Code 18.2-53.1 Robbery (felony)
Joseph Daniel Key is currently in custody at Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.
This investigation is ongoing at this time. Anyone with information regarding these incidents is encouraged to contact Detective Nick Richardson with the Albemarle County Criminal Investigations Division at 434-296-5807, Captain Micaiah Ledford with the Albemarle County Fire Marshal’s Office at 434-296-5833, or Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000.
Notably, the suspect likely is a beneficiary of George-Soros-funded “justice.” On June 26, 2020 Joseph Daniel Key pled guilty to a 2019 Grand Theft Auto charge and was “serving” a two-year suspended sentence when the above crimes were committed.
While local law enforcement has not publicly affirmed the disregard of mask-prohibition laws and this recent increase in violent crime, criminal justice experts have.