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Off duty HPD officer ends violent string of Houston grocery holdups

(Houston) -- A Houston Police Officer's quick action on his way home from work is being credited with ending a string of violent grocery robberies in southeast Houston.

Police had publicized security camera images last week, showing a gun-toting robber terrorizing workers at southeast Houston meat markets and grocery stores.

Officers said he would barge into Spanish groceries and meat markets throughout the Gulf Freeway corridor between Monroe and Howard in southeast Houston for the past several months. In most of the robberies, police said he would hold the gun on terrorized store workers as he cleaned out the cash registers.

Just hours after HPD publicized the robber's photo from security cameras in some of the holdups, an HPD officer spotted the man on a street corner near the site of some of the robberies.

HPD Eastside Patrol Officer Al Yanez spotted him standing near the car, speaking with another man so he called for backup.

He called for backup and when marked patrol cars arrived, 22-year-old Jimmy Leonel Urquia was arrested.

So far, Urquia has been charged with 2 counts of Aggravated Robbery with a Deadly Weapon. Robbery Squad investigators said they may clear as many as 10 of the recent holdups with his arrest.

His booking mug shot is not being released since police said they were still showing his photo in a lineup for other victims.

His bail is set at $80,000 on each count in the 178th Harris County District Court.

Officers involved with the arrest told Local 2 that Urquia was in the United States illegally, having been deported from the country after violent crimes in the past. One officer said he returned and quickly started committing new crimes.

Urquia was known on the streets, and by some of the robbery victims, by a nickname that calls out his dark complexion.

The off-duty officer recognized him and the vehicle that was seen during some of the recent holdups when he called for backup, according to HPD Robbery Squad officers.




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