LAWRENCEVILLE — The Gwinnett County Police Department worked with the FBI and other local law enforcement agencies to uncover and arrest a robbery crew that targeted auto parts stores throughout the metro Atlanta area. The robbery crew is the same ones responsible for the death of retired Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Deputy Sergeant Felix Cosme while he was working at the O’Reilly’s store on Hamilton Mill Road on January 8, 2020.
Following the death of Sgt. Cosme, the lead detective assigned to the case, Corporal David Smith began looking into the case. The suspects fled the scene after killing Cosme in a Volkswagen Jetta. Corporal Smith joined forces with Robbery Detective Justin Cofield. The pair determined that the suspects matched the descriptions of at least four other robberies in Gwinnett County of other auto parts stores.
The pair of detectives began to pour through countless surveillance videos looking for the Jetta. “While trying to zero in on the Jetta, the robbery crew continued doing armed robberies of auto parts stores, including two more in Gwinnett, one in Roswell, Henry County, Athens, and Duluth. As these robberies were occurring, Corporal Smith and Detective Cofield continued to gain more information on the Jetta until they were finally able to identify the exact vehicle,” said Corporal Collin Flynn, Gwinnett County Police Department Public Information Officer.
A person associated with the Jetta was identified as Prince Robertson. Robertson was stopped by the Braselton Police Department in December of 2019 for DUI. Footage from the officer performing the traffic stop was reviewed by Corporal Smith and Detective Cofield. They were able to identify another suspect, Tavaras Norah. Robertson was arrested for DUI during that traffic stop.
The FBI was called in to assist in the investigation due to the crimes happening in multiple jurisdictions. The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office was also instrumental as they provided “round the clock surveillance” on the two suspects. While the pair were under surveillance on June 1, Detective Cofield and an FBI agent saw them commit another robbery at the Auto Zone in Dacula. The suspects took off after being confronted and a chase ensued. The suspects wound up crashing their car off of La Maison Drive in Dacula.
Robertson and Norah took off on foot following the crash. A massive overnight manhunt was conducted but they were not immediately located. Robertson was found and arrested the next morning near the neighborhood while walking down the street. Norah turned himself into the police the same day.
Following the arrest of Robertson and Norah, crucial evidence was located linking these men to the robberies and to the murder of Deputy Cosme. The duo was also linked to two more auto parts store robberies in 2017.
In total, Robertson and Norah were linked to 15 armed robberies where the pair stole $17,391 in cash. For their crimes, they racked up a staggering 68 felony warrants. Robertson and Norah remain in custody at the Gwinnett County Jail.
Corporal Flynn said the investigation “involved hundreds of hours of work.” He added, “The Gwinnett County Police Department wants to thank the FBI, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department, Athens Police Department, Cobb County Police Department, Roswell Police Department, and Duluth Police Department for the invaluable assistance that they provided in arresting this dangerous robbery crew. The police department also wants to highlight the exhaustive and dedicated work completed by Corporal Smith and Det. Cofield in this case.”
— Staff Reports