John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and David Sundberg, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that WILLIAM ROSARIO LOPEZ, 34, of New Haven, and SOLIMAR RODRIGUEZ GONZALEZ, 19, of New Britain, have been charged with federal offenses related to their participation in the armed robberies of five Connecticut gas stations last month.
Rosario Lopez and Gonzalez were arrested yesterday. Pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the defendants were presented in court via videoconference. Rosario Lopez is detained and Gonzalez was released on bond.
As alleged in court documents and statements made in court:
On March 18, 2020, Rosario Lopez entered the Shell Gas Station located at 1302 Hartford Turnpike in Vernon. Rosario Lopez, wearing a black mask, pointed a small silver pistol at the store employee, grabbed him by the collar, directed him to walk to the cash register, and struck him in the back of the head as they were walking to the cash register. The employee opened the cash register and handed Rosario Lopez approximately $1,188. Rosario Lopez ordered the employee to lay on the floor and then fled the store.
On March 22, 2020, at approximately 10 p.m., Rosario Lopez entered the Fleet Gas Station located at 1611 Meriden Waterbury Turnpike in Southington. Rosario Lopez, wearing a surgical-type mask, pointed a silver pistol at the store employee and demanded money. After the employee provided Rosario Lopez with approximately $200, Rosario Lopez said, “Give me everything else.” The employee explained that all of the money was already in the safe and he did not know the combination. Rosario Lopez kicked the employee, ordered him to lay on the floor and then fled the store.
On March 22, 2020, approximately one hour after the Southington robbery, Rosario Lopez entered the Shell Gas Station located at 883 Hamilton Avenue in Waterbury. Rosario Lopez, wearing a surgical-type mask, pointed a small silver pistol at the store employee and demanded money. The employee opened the cash register and provided approximately $500 to Rosario Lopez. Rosario Lopez ordered the employee to lay on the floor and then fled the store.
On March 23, 2020, less than two hours after the Waterbury robbery, Rosario Lopez entered the Shell Gas Station located at 696 Main Street in Ansonia. Rosario Lopez, wearing a surgical-type mask, pointed a small silver pistol at the store employee, demanded money and threatened to shoot the employee. After the employee was unable to open the cash register quickly, Rosario Lopez fired one round in the direction of employee and then fled. The employee was not struck by the projectile.
On March 26, 2020, Rosario Lopez entered the Citgo Gas Station located at 788 West Main Street in New Britain. Rosario Lopez, wearing a surgical-type mask, waited for another customer to leave the store, approached the counter, pointed a small silver pistol at the store employee and demanded money. The employee opened the cash register and Rosario Lopez took approximately $250 from the register drawer. Rosario then fled the store.
It is alleged that Gonzalez acted as a “lookout” in at least two of the robberies, and she is depicted on store video surveillance just prior to the robberies that occurred in Vernon and Waterbury.
In association with the arrests of Rosario Lopez and Gonzalez, investigators searched a vehicle used by the defendants during the alleged robberies and recovered a silver .25 caliber semiautomatic pistol and 14 rounds of ammunition.
It is also alleged that Rosario Lopez’s criminal history includes convictions in New York for attempted murder and criminal possession of a weapon, and convictions in Puerto Rico for importation and unlawful possession of a firearm, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault with a firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm, threatening a witness, and aggravated robbery.
The federal criminal complaints charge Rosario Lopez and Gonzalez with Hobbs Act Robbery and conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery, offenses that carry a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on each count. If Rosario Lopez is convicted of brandishing a firearm during a robbery, he faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of seven years, and if he is convicted of discharging a firearm during the Ansonia robbery, he faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
Rosario Lopez is also charged with possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.
U.S. Attorney Durham stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations, and each defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Connecticut State Police, and the Vernon, Southington, Waterbury, Ansonia, New Britain, New Haven and Guilford Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Doherty.