You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 26, 2019

Jury Convicts Final Defendant in Grocery Store Armed Robbery Spree

NORFOLK, Va. – A federal jury convicted a Virginia Beach man today on armed robbery and conspiracy charges for his role in a spree of grocery store robberies that ended with the shooting of the manager at a local Harris Teeter. 

“This verdict is justice not only for the victims, but for the citizens of this community who want to live in freedom from this kind of senseless gun violence,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We cannot undo the misery that this defendant and his co-conspirators caused others to suffer, but we can take some solace that they have been held accountable and will receive the just punishment their crimes deserve.”

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Darrius A. Heuser-Whitaker, 19, was one of two masked gunmen who robbed a Virginia Beach Food Lion grocery store and attempted to rob a Harris Teeter grocery store, also in Virginia Beach. During the robberies, Heuser-Whitaker pushed a semi-automatic handgun equipped with a laser sight into the backs of the store managers while demanding money from the safe. 

“Today’s verdict is the result of a collaborative effort with our partners from the Virginia Beach and Chesapeake Police Departments and U.S. Attorney’s Office to ensure this dangerous crime spree was stopped before anyone else was hurt, and to hold accountable every person responsible for terrorizing the community and harming innocent citizens,” said Martin Culbreth, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office. “This successful investigation is just one example of the longstanding commitment and teamwork among law enforcement partners in Hampton Roads to protect the public from violent criminals.”

Heuser-Whitaker and his nine co-conspirators worked in at least six-man teams for each robbery, which included inside and outside look-outs, getaway drivers, and two gunmen. The robbery crew used police scanners to monitor law enforcement activity and earpieces to communicate with one another.  The gunmen were in and out of the stores within minutes. In the final attempted robbery at the Harris Teeter store, the other gunman, Devonta Doyle, shot the manager after the manager was unable to open the safe. Heuser-Whitaker, Doyle, and others fled the scene and threw their shoes out of their getaway car in an area near Regent University. The FBI and Virginia Beach Police Department located the shoes and submitted them for analysis, which tied one of the shoes to Heuser-Whitaker. Investigators were able to link eight of the ten co-conspirators to a group of friends who attended Tallwood High School and lived in the College Park neighborhood of Virginia Beach.

Heuser-Whitaker faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 17 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison when sentenced on October 24. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Heuser-Whitaker’s nine co-conspirators pleaded guilty to various robbery and gun charges on the dates below:

Name, Age

Hometown

Convicted

Cato M. Battle, 19

Virginia Beach

February 27, 2019

Willey E. Brooks, 27

Norfolk

February 26, 2019

Quayshawn Davidson, 22

Virginia Beach

May 24, 2019

Devonta Doyle, 23

Virginia Beach

July 2, 2019

Monica Perkins, 30

Norfolk

February 27, 2019

Brennan K. Smith, 22

Virginia Beach

July 18, 2019

Brandon C. Tisdale, 21

Virginia Beach

February 28, 2019

Trevor L. Tisdale, 25

Virginia Beach

February 26, 2019

Keonte K. Yorkshire, 22

Virginia Beach

February 5, 2019

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Mark Herring, Attorney General of Virginia, Martin Culbreth, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, James A. Cervera, Chief of Virginia Beach Police, and Col. K.L. Wright, Chief of Chesapeake Police, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson accepted the verdict. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John F. Butler and Andrew Bosse, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Bird, are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:18-cr-177

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Public Affairs joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated July 26, 2019