A 52-year-old Grand Rapids man was arraigned in Muskegon County’s 60th District Court on Wednesday in connection with two armed robberies in the City of Whitehall.
James Benjamin Koepke who’s last listed address is in Grand Rapids claimed to be homeless at the time of his arrest. He does have relatives who live in the White Lake area.
Koepke was charged with two counts of robbery that occurred on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the Admiral gas station in the 1000 block of Colby St. in Whitehall. Over $200 was taken on the 24th when the suspect entered the store and demanded cash. He indicated he had a weapon.
On Christmas night the suspect again threatened the clerk and demanded cash, but took the cash drawer after the clerk locked herself in the store’s office and called 911. Koepke was arrested nearby a short time later and the drawer and cash were recovered. No one was injured in either case.
“The store clerk deserves a lot of credit for what happened.” according to Whitehall Police Chief Roger Squiers. “She had heard about the robbery the night before and her quick thinking, calm demeanor and detailed information protected her and led to the arrest. She watched him drive away and told the 911 operator where the vehicle went.”
Chief Squiers also noted that the quick response by Sgt. Doug Morris and Officer Brandon Parsons was critical. “Sgt. Morris was on duty for the first robbery and was parked nearby on Christmas Day, just in case. He was actually at the scene before the suspect’s location came over the radio. Sgt. Morris located the suspect literally within seconds of the robbery.”
Koepke’s next court date is scheduled for Jan. 3, 2013.