Whitehall police apprehend suspected GameStop robber
Whitehall police have withdrawn charges of aggravated robbery and kidnapping against a Columbus man in connection with a July 17 armed robbery at GameStop, 3598 E. Main St.
Columbus police apprehended Kermit Clay, 49, and took him to the Whitehall Division of Police on July 25, Whitehall Sgt. Dan Kelso said.
At the time, Whitehall police had a warrant for his arrest, but as of 11 a.m. July 26, he had not been charged and remains a “person of interest” in the case, Kelso said.
Kelso said Clay was cooperating with Whitehall police in its investigation.
Whitehall police are investigating further to determine whether Clay is the man recorded on video camera at the scene of the robbery and whether an accomplice was involved.
Charges against Clay, or possibly one or more other individuals, are possible, said Kelso, who was not immediately aware of the circumstances of how or where Columbus police apprehended Clay.
The manager of GameStop told Whitehall police a man later identified as Clay was waiting outside the store when he opened the store at 10 a.m. July 17.
The manager described the robber as “well-dressed.”
The robber was wearing a white long-sleeve dress shirt, a blue tie and black dress pants and was carrying a briefcase.
Clay allegedly entered the store and waited while other customers entered and left, and at about 11:30 a.m., when only Clay and the employee were in the store, approached the manager.
Clay reportedly pointed a 9-mm pistol and said, “You know what this is. Give me the money out of the register and open the safe.”
The manager gave Clay the money from the cash register but said no money was in the safe.
Clay allegedly took the manager to the safe and forced him to open it, showing that it had no money.
Next, Clay reportedly took the manager to a storeroom, where he was made to place dozens of video games in store bags.
Clay ordered the employee to the floor and then bound his hands and feet with duct tape, police said.
Clay made several trips in and out of the store to carry bags and place them inside a blue 2004 or 2005 Chevrolet Impala with black custom rims, police said.
Before leaving, Clay cut the tape binding the employee’s hands and feet and told him to wait inside a closet, police said, but the employee immediately called 911 after Clay fled.
Clay left the store with 52 video games and about $800 from the register.
Police learned from a witness at the business next door that Clay had arrived at the store at about 8:30 a.m. and apparently slept inside his car until the store opened at 10 a.m.
Police identified Clay via videotape from a surveillance camera.
Clay has an extensive criminal record.
According to the Franklin County Municipal Court website, Clay has been arrested more than two dozen times, dating back to 1999.
Six times, the cases were remanded to the Franklin County Common Pleas Court.
Clay has served multiple stints in the Franklin County jail, according to municipal court records, and a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Corrections confirmed that Clay twice was sentenced to prison terms.
Prior to the most recent crime for which he is wanted, Whitehall police arrested Clay on Sept. 4, 2011, for theft at Walmart, 3657 E. Main St.
In August 2011 he was arrested for theft and criminal trespassing.
Police arrested him in June 2011 for refusal to leave public transportation.
In May 2011, Columbus police arrested Clay for theft at the Kroger store on Eakin Road. He pleaded guilty to theft, and a charge of criminal trespassing was dismissed, according to records.
Columbus police arrested Clay in September 2010 for assault and domestic violence.
In August 2010, Clay was arrested for theft at a Lowe’s store in Columbus.
He was arrested twice in February 2009: Bexley police arrested him for menacing and disorderly conduct, and he was sentenced to nine days in jail, one of several times he served short stints in the Franklin County jail.
He was arrested the same month for criminal trespassing at a Kroger store.
He was arrested in September 2009 for robbery. In February 2009, Bexley police arrested him for felonious assault.
In December 2008, he was arrested for theft and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Police arrested him in November 2008 for theft and criminal trespassing at a Kroger store and he was sentenced to 14 days in jail.
He was arrested three additional times in 2008 for theft and once for receiving stolen property.
He was arrested in 2007 for theft and aggravated burglary.
Clay was arrested Dec. 24, 2002, for aggravated robbery at a Westerville Road residence that court records indicated had been his address of record.
Clay was arrested six times in 1999, according to municipal court records, for charges including aggravated panhandling, assault, robbery and rape.
According to Common Pleas Court records, the rape charge was amended to aggravated assault, and a robbery was charge was amended to theft.
Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation records show Clay was admitted to the Orient Correctional Facility on April 21, 2000, for a robbery and theft case originating in Franklin County. He was released Dec. 18, 2002.
He re-entered prison March 24, 2003, for an aggravated robbery case in Franklin County. He was sentenced to four years and released Dec. 21, 2006.
Anyone with information should call Whitehall police at 614-237-6333, or call 911.