INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — A 31-year-old man who deputies said pulled up to a convenience store in a stolen vehicle and later admitted to forcing a clerk to hand over money at the Vero Beach Arcade last week, was detained late Thursday.
Deputies arrested James Hamilton, of the 2500 block of 57th Circle, Vero Beach, on a variety of charges, including robbery, aggravated battery, criminal mischief, false imprisonment, possession of a controlled substance, and grand theft auto. Hamilton was held Friday at the Indian River County Jail on $221,000 bond.
Hamilton’s arrest comes a little over a week after the Vero Beach Arcade robbery. Deputies said Hamilton choked a clerk, demanded cash and fled the business with an undisclosed amount of money.
“We’re so happy he is locked up,” a cashier at the arcade, 832 S. U.S. 1, said Friday. “We thank the sheriff’s department. They were very supportive and kept us informed every step of the way.”
Hamilton also has 18 warrants out of St. Lucie County, one involving a strong armed robbery at a Fort Pierce gas station, jail records show. It was unclear if Hamilton was connected to the armed robbery that happened last week at Dunkin Donuts, 53rd Street and U.S. 1.
“Great job to our team for getting him off the streets and behind bars where he belongs,” deputies said in a social media post on Facebook.
Indian River County deputies spotted the white 2014 Toyota Avalon Hybrid – stolen out of Vero Beach – about 11:30 p.m. Thursday at a 7-Eleven parking lot. Deputies identified the driver, Hamilton, as the suspect in the Vero Beach Arcade robbery.
Hamilton went inside the 7-Eleven, 210 Highland Drive S.E., to buy lottery tickets, deputies said. When Hamilton left the convenience store, he spotted a patrol deputy and ran, reports show.
Hamilton fled into the woods, but got entangled in vines, deputies said. Hamilton ignored a deputy’s commands, freed himself from the vines and charged at the officer, reports show.
The deputy tackled Hamilton and detained him. Deputies found three bags of synthetic drugs in Hamilton’s front left pocket, reports show.
Hamilton – who has several suspensions on his license – told deputies “he would never drive, he doesn’t have a license,” reports show.
Deputies arrested Hamilton and took him to the county jail. Hamilton has an arraignment at 8:45 a.m. April 3, court records show.
Since last week’s armed robbery, the Vero Beach Arcade has added extra security, a lock and buzzer on the front door, and an upgraded camera system. The cashier said Hamilton destroyed the previous cameras with a tire iron.
The business also changed its closing hours to 5:30 p.m. during the weekdays, while weekend hours remained normal, the cashier said. It was unclear how long the early closings during the week would last.