A Maryland public school teacher faces robbery charges after police say she chatted up two men at a bar, learned they were in the jewelry business and lured them into a parking garage where minutes later a masked gunman appeared.
“Give me the watches,” he said, making off with timepieces valued at $6,000 and $8,450, according to court records filed Tuesday.
The events, as described in the court records, unfolded in and around the Old Town Pour House in Gaithersburg in the early morning of July 15. The teacher, Lakeisha Burrison, 33, was arrested this week and remains jailed on no bond status.
She has been suspended from work at the Blair G. Ewing Center, a Rockville school with programs for students with academic and behavioral problems. Burrison had been a teacher and recently held the title of community and career liaison, according to Derek Turner, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Public Schools. She joined the system in November 2014, Turner said.
In court Tuesday, Amelia Maxfield, the public defender representing Burrison, said she had no previous criminal record and has been cooperating with authorities. “These are allegations at this point,” Maxfield said, adding that it is early in the case.
Detectives continue to look for the masked gunman, described as about 5 feet 6 inches tall and skinny, said Officer Dan Lane, a spokesman for the Gaithersburg Police Department.
According to a police affidavit, the two victims — friends from Pakistan — arrived just before midnight at the bar in the Rio area near Interstates 270 and 370. A woman who introduced herself as Keisha started a conversation and “was very curious about the watches they were wearing and she asked many questions about their jobs,” according to the affidavit.
She asked how much the watches were worth, the detective wrote, and one man told her.
The three talked, one man posed with the woman for a cellphone photo and they exchanged phone numbers.
As the bar closed, the group parted ways.
Shortly after, Keisha called one of the men to suggest they all get together again to talk and smoke cigarettes, and after the men agreed, they picked her up as she walked nearby, police say.
She pointed out a parking garage and the men pulled in.
The masked gunman appeared and pointed a gun at the men after about five minutes, the affidavit states. One man later told detectives that the robber never pointed a gun at the woman, who had left the car, crouched nearby and looked up to see what was going on.
After getting the watches, the gunman ran. One victim chased him. The other victim looked at the woman, who told him, “Go away. It’s not safe for you,” before she fled, according to police.
Detectives said in their affidavit that they spoke to both men and after looking at the call history on at least one of their cellphones, determined Keisha was Burrison.
They contacted her, detectives wrote, and she agreed to meet at a Chick-fil-A.
In her account, she met the men at the bar, but it was their idea to get together in the parking garage, where they then said “a guy” was coming from the bar with marijuana. A man showed up, Burrison told the detectives, but robbed the two men.
According to the court records, the detectives sided with the men’s account, which included what police took as a telling detail: The gunman knew about the watches before seeing them.
Burrison appeared in court Tuesday to have her initial bond conditions reviewed.
Montgomery District Judge John C. Moffett said it was a difficult decision about whether to order Burrison held without bond, because she had been charged with participating in an armed robbery, or to assign her a bond, which could allow her to get out of jail, because there was no indication she had been armed.
“I’m struggling with this one,” he told Burrison’s attorney and a county prosecutor.
He eventually ordered her held without bond.
On Tuesday night, the principal of the Alternative Education Programs at the Ewing Center, Damien Ingram, sent a message to families of students there, informing them of Burrison’s arrest. He noted that the charges were unrelated to her school duties and that the Montgomery County school system is cooperating with law enforcement.
“The allegations presented in the charging document are completely unacceptable. They represent a serious breach of responsibility, integrity and the law,” he wrote. “This behavior does not reflect the values of MCPS or our community, and it will not be tolerated.”