(STL.News) – A Virginia Beach man was sentenced late yesterday to 24 years in prison for his role as a gunman at multiple armed robberies of local grocery stores.
According to court documents, Darrius Heuser-Whitaker, 20, a member of a Virginia Beach-based “line” of the Bloods street gang, 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 into the backs of the store managers while demanding money from the stores’ safes.
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 masked 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 DNA analysis, which tied one of the shoes to Heuser-Whitaker. Investigators were able to link most of the co-conspirators to a group of friends who attended Tallwood High School and lived in the College Park neighborhood of Virginia Beach.
Heuser-Whitaker was convicted on all counts after a jury trial in July 2019, and he is the next-to-last defendant to be sentenced in the case. He and the co-conspirators who were sentenced earlier this year have received a combined 120 years in prison for their roles in the crimes. 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 sentencing by U.S. District Judge Raymond A. Jackson. Assistant U.S. Attorneys John F. Butler and Andrew Bosse and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin G. Bird prosecuted 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.