Gary teen charged as adult in store robbery
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent April 15, 2014 12:36PM
Updated: April 15, 2014 12:44PM
VALPARAISO – A Gary teen was waived out of the juvenile court system Monday and is charged in Porter Superior Court with robbery, a Class B felony, in connection with the March 29 robbery of the Family Express convenience store in South Haven.
Brian Harper, 17, also admitted to committing another robbery, at the Rich Oil gas station, 4301 Central Ave., in Lake Station in the early morning of April 2, according to court documents provided Tuesday by the Porter County Sheriff’s Department.
Harper told police he was under the influence of alcohol and was looking for money the night of the robbery. He admitted the weapon he displayed that night to a store clerk was an air soft BB gun, though police said the gun looked almost identical to a pistol.
A clerk at the Family Express, 363 W. U.S. 6, told police she was robbed at gunpoint around 11:30 p.m. Harper went into the rest room, came out and pulled out what appeared to be a black semi-automatic pistol and pointed it directly at her, according to court documents.
Harper demanded all the money in the register, then allegedly threatened to kill the clerk because he said there was not enough. The woman begged him to please not kill her. He demanded three packs of cigarettes, then left on foot.
Harper, accompanied by his parents, turned himself in April 3 at the Portage Police Department after the sheriff’s department released pictures of the Family Express robbery to the media.
Harper told police another male drove him to the convenience store and a third waited in the car while he went into Family Express.
Harper and Jonathon Taylor Scarpinato, 17, of Lake Station, were charged Thursday in Lake Superior Court with an April 2 robbery at the Rich Oil gas station in Lake Station in which cash and cigarettes were taken. A BB gun that shoots plastic pellets but resembles a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol was used in the crime.
A court date has not yet been set in the Porter County case.