Former Tallahassee Community College student Reginald Chatman was tried on Sept. 21 for his involvement in an armed robbery, kidnapping, burglary of a dwelling and assault in 2008. After resuming for closing arguments and jury deliberation on Sept. 22, Chatman was found guilty on all counts. Sentencing will take place on a later date.
Chatman, Cory Carroll, Korey Cole and Anthony Keel are accused of attempting to burglarize the Walgreens formerly located on Apalachee Parkway. In the process, the group allegedly abducted, punched and held former assistant manager George Rizkalla at gunpoint.
According to Tallahassee Police Department records, Chatman, Cole, Keel, Carroll and three of their friends are suspected of robbing more than 30 local businesses and stealing more than $50,000 in 2008 alone.
Rizkalla testified, in a hushed voice, that around 10:30 p.m. on June 29, 2008, he left Walgreens and picked up dinner from the Chili’s on Apalachee Parkway. After a 10-minute drive from Chili’s, Rizkalla said he arrived to his former home on Stadium Drive unaware that he was being followed. As he explained, Rizkalla pointed to the route he took home on an enlarged map of Tallahassee.
Rizkalla said when he got home a young man pushed him to the ground, knocked his glasses off, punched him and demanded he relinquish the keys to his car and Walgreens. Rizkalla said he was forced to keep his head down in the backseat of his car and give his abductors his wallet. Rizkalla admitted a T-shirt was taped to his head to prevent him from seeing anything.
Upon arrival, Rizkalla testified he gave the robbers the code to the Walgreens safe, which they were unable to open. Rizkalla said one of the young men then put a gun in his mouth and demanded the correct code to the safe, which Rizkalla maintained he had already given them.
After learning there was only about $3,000 in the safe, Rizkalla said the young men abandoned their semi-failed plan to burglarize Walgreens and decided to withdraw $10,000 from his savings account. Rizkalla was then taped to a chair with duct tape in a suspect’s apartment and waited for their return.
“They withdrew about $500…and came back after maybe 45 minutes to an hour. Then the driver said, ‘You have more in your account than you said you did. You’re going to stay here with us tonight, and in the morning we’re going to drive to the Bank of America drive thru and you’re going to tell the person working there to withdraw the $15,000 or $10,000 that was in there,’ ” said Rizkalla.
After Chatman and his friends left again, Rizkalla said he had to tell them his apartment number where they stole his laptop, digital camera and Internet modem, collectively valued at more than $1,500.
Rizkalla said he was left alone in the car for more than 15 minutes and managed to escape and call the police.
Following the incident, Rizkalla said he saw a picture of Chatman in the newspaper in relation to a similar crime and was able to recall Chatman buying weird items and behaving oddly both the day of the robbery and the day before the robbery. Based on that connection, Rizkalla believes Chatman was one of the suspects.
Chatman’s fiancée, Michelle Souffrance, however, said she had been running errands all day and evening with Chatman when the crime happened. Souffrance said Keel borrowed her car and kept it for hours, and that Chatman went to look for the car with another male friend.
TPD Criminal Investigator Jeff Mahoney, testified that Chatman admitted to being in the area of the Walgreens and ATMs used the night of the robbery during interrogation.
“[Chatman] said he borrowed his child’s mother’s car and called Keel to get his car back, then went to [Keel’s apartment] to get the car,” said Mahoney. Mahoney testified that Chatman’s cell phone location contradicted his alibi, but coincided with Rizkalla’s testimony.
Carroll testified that Chatman was the most active during the robbery, and it was he who held Rizkalla at gunpoint and struck him repeatedly.
Chatman did not testify in his own defense.