He dressed the part of a guy named Lincoln, complete with black topcoat, fake gray beard and old-fashioned stovepipe hat. But this presidential impostor, police say, was no Honest Abe.
Prince George's County police said yesterday they have arrested a Laurel man suspected of robbing 10 stores in the Washington suburbs while disguised as a pistol-wielding Abraham Lincoln.
Kevin Andre Gibson, 35, of the 11200 block of Laurel Walk Drive, was charged with four counts of armed robbery and four counts of first-degree assault Wednesday night. He was being held without bond yesterday in the Prince George's County jail.
Police said they don't know why Gibson allegedly chose to pose as the man known as the Great Emancipator. But they said each of the victims reported that the robber--who even donned wire-rimmed glasses during some stickups--was a dead ringer for the president, save for the fact that he was a light-skinned black man.
"With the criminal mind, it's hard to know why they do things," said Lt. Rafael Hylton, commander of the robbery section of the Prince George's police department. "I mean, why Abe Lincoln?"
Authorities said Gibson is suspected of robbing gas stations, convenience stores and clothing shops since April in Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Howard, Montgomery and Fairfax counties.
Prince George's investigators said the suspect they dubbed "Dishonest Abe" was turned in by an accomplice after a botched robbery Tuesday night at the Dollar Store in the 6100 block of Oxon Hill Road in Oxon Hill.
Police said a man robbed the store at gunpoint about 8:30 p.m. but was struck by a car when he tried to flee on foot, breaking some ribs. The suspect, identified as John Griffin Carter Jr., 32, of the 700 block of P Street NW, tried to run away but was caught in some nearby woods by a police canine squad.
Carter later told detectives that the driver of his getaway car had panicked after seeing a police cruiser in the neighborhood and left without him. Apparently miffed at being abandoned, police said, Carter named Gibson as his partner and said the pair had committed several other robberies in which Gibson wore an Abraham Lincoln costume.
Gibson was arrested about 5 p.m. Wednesday at his home in Laurel, said Sgt. Craig Howard of the Prince George's police. Gibson and Carter, who was also charged with armed robbery and first-degree assault, were being held without bond in the Prince George's County jail, police said.
Police said Gibson and Carter would steal cars at Metro parking lots throughout the region and use them while committing the crimes, and would ditch them afterward to cover their tracks.
Investigators said they have not found any disguises, which they believe Gibson may have discarded after word got out last month that authorities were looking for a robber dressed as Lincoln.
Gibson has been charged in three armed robberies that occurred in Prince George's County: an Oct. 17 holdup of the Harbour Way Exxon station in Bowie; a July 22 robbery of a Linens 'n' Things store in College Park; and Tuesday's stickup of the Dollar Store in Oxon Hill. Police said more charges are pending.
Victims of the Lincoln bandit said they were relieved to learn of the arrests.
Lance Accipter, manager of the Parkway Exxon in Laurel, said the Lincoln look-alike who robbed his convenience store on July 14 emptied the cash register and escaped in a car waiting outside. "When I saw what he looked like, I was like, 'What in the world?' " Accipter said. "He came in, didn't say much, had a gun and very quietly said, 'Give me your money.' "
But the disguise didn't always command respect. Jackeline Gutierrez, a cashier at a Exxon station in the 800 block of Washington Boulevard in Laurel that was robbed on June 29, said she didn't take the robber seriously until he showed her two handguns that he had hidden under his black coat.
"When he came in, I thought, 'He looks so familiar,' " she said. "If he was white, he would have looked exactly like Abraham Lincoln. I laughed at first, but I think that just made him mad."