KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two men have been sentenced for their roles in a three-months-long conspiracy that included at least 27 armed robberies, culminating in the armed robbery of a Walgreens in Blue Springs, Mo., in which a suspect was fatally shot by law enforcement officers.
Demetrius E. Nelson, 26, of Kansas City, Missouri, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays on Wednesday, July 10, to eight years in federal prison without parole. Co-defendant Parrise K. Black, also known as “Kilo,” 27, of Grandview, Missouri, was sentenced on Tuesday, July 9, to 10 years in federal prison without parole.
On May 30, 2018, Nelson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, four counts of robbery, and four counts of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. On May 21, 2018, Black pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, three counts of robbery, and three counts of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
Seven co-conspirators robbed 27 businesses in Blue Springs, Independence, North Kansas City, Raytown, Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., at gunpoint from Jan. 2 to March 24, 2016. In addition to the armed robberies charged in the indictment, evidence was introduced during Thomas’s trial of other, uncharged robberies that were committed in furtherance of the conspiracy. Victim businesses included convenience stores, pharmacies, and other businesses.
The robberies followed a similar pattern: Two or three conspirators entered the business armed with handguns, wearing gloves, hoodies, and/or masks. The hoodies were drawn tightly over their faces to obscure their features. The employees were forced at gunpoint to hand over money from the cash register and the safe. The thieves wore the same hoodies in nearly all the robberies; Thomas wore a blue Kansas City Royals hoodie for the majority of the robberies he committed.
The spree of robberies culminated on March 24, 2016. Co-defendants Shannon R. Thomas, 28, of Kansas City, Missouri, and Deonte J. Collins-Abbott, 24, of Grandview, Missouri, along with Jermon Seals of Shawnee, Kansas, robbed the Walgreens at 7 Highway and Duncan in Blue Springs. Thomas placed a Springfield Armory .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol to the back of an employee’s head and took money from the front register. Collins-Abbott and Seals went over the pharmacy counter and took prescription grade cough syrup at gunpoint from the pharmacist. They left the business but were confronted by law enforcement officers as they were walking back to the vehicle. They failed to comply with the officers’ commands; Seals turned towards the officers, pointing a gun in their direction. Officers returned fire and Seals was fatally struck in the exchange. Thomas and Collins-Abbott were apprehended by officers after a short foot chase.
Thomas was found guilty at trial on May 9, 2019, of participating in the conspiracy as well as participating in 10 armed robberies. He was also found guilty of 10 counts of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Thomas faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 70 years in federal prison without parole and awaits sentencing.
Collins-Abbott pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison without parole. Collins-Abbott admitted that he committed eight armed robberies between Feb. 3, 2016, and March 24, 2016.
Co-defendants Kevin T. Thompson-Randell, 23, of Kansas City, Missouri, and Frank A. Garner, Jr., 25, of Grandview, have also pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Caine and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mary Kate Butterfield. It was investigated by the FBI, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Independence, Mo., Police Department, the North Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Kansas City, Kan., Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service.
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