Deputies arrest 19-year-old Lakeland man for bizarre Family Dollar store armed robbery

The suspect has 42 prior arrests

TAMPA, Fla. - Polk County Sheriffs arrested 19-year-old, Jamari Gardner, for robbery with a firearm, grand theft of a firearm, and aggravated assault with a firearm without intent to kill.

All three charges are felonies. 

Polk Co. Sheriffs say Gardner walked into a Family Dollar store in Lakeland on Thursday, October 5th, and pointed a gun at two people in the store. 

Gardner pulled his gun out on the first victim, a customer, and demanded money. When the victim didn't comply, Gardner put the weapon away and continued shopping in the store. 

Later, Gardner pointed his gun at the cashier and demanded money while checking out. When the cashier hesitated, Gardner put the gun away and left the store. 

Police say video surveillance footage at the store recorded all of Gardner's actions.  

Officers recognized Gardner from previous run-ins and went to his residence to arrest him. Upon his arrest, Gardner allegedly admitted to deputies what he had done at the Family Dollar store on October 5.

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Deputies searched his residence and found a loaded shotgun with one round in the chamber. It was the same shotgun the Hillsborough County Sherrif's Office reported stolen in December of 2016. 

"This suspect is only 19-years-old and already has a significant criminal history," said Sheriff Grady Judd. "He has no regard for the law. He was just arrested last month for robbery, and committed last night's robbery with a stolen firearm! The way to deal with a criminal like this is to sentence him to prison." 

Sheriff Judd also discussed Gardner's arrest during a press conference while deliberating about the juvenile justice system's "ineffectiveness." 

To date, Gardner has been arrested 42 times. Twenty-two of those criminal charges were felonies. Gardner was also recently released from a juvenile facility for a charge of armed robbery from a September 22nd incident before the alleged incident at Family Dollar. 

"How much easier do we want to get on these juvenile thugs?" asked Sheriff Judd.

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