Guilty plea in robberies at Safeway, U.S. 1 Tobacco

April 21, 2014

A 30-year-old D.C. man pleaded guilty Monday to two federal gun charges in connection with the robbery of a Safeway grocery store in Old Town Alexandria in which shots were fired and another robbery at a Woodbridge area tobacco shop in which an employee was shot in the head.

Calvin Lewis admitted as part of his plea that he and others swiped about $7,900 from the Safeway on South Royal Street on Nov. 17, and $5,000 in cash and cigarettes from U.S. 1 Tobacco on Jefferson Davis Highway on Nov. 14. Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to recommend he face the mandatory minimum 35 years in prison at his July 18 sentencing, though a judge could buck their request and impose an even stiffer punishment.

Lewis and another man were charged in the case earlier this year, and Lewis is the first to publicly agree to any charges. His agreement, though, lists other people who worked with them. Federal court records do not show any public charges against them, and authorities have said the investigation and legal case are continuing.

The robberies were startling in part for where they occurred, and in part because of how they were executed. One incident occurred in a Safeway, and the robbers wore masks and gloves as they went into the store. Then they pulled out guns and demanded money from the employees, court records show. As they were leaving, someone fired at a customer, who police have said was grazed.

The other happened at U.S. 1 Tobacco, and an employee was shot and wounded, court records show.

Lewis’s defense attorney declined to comment after the hearing.

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Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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