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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Suspect in Clearwater store robberies ID’d after crash

Clearwater police have identified a man who robbed two stores this week and crashed his truck Wednesday after he fled from a traffic stop.

Willie D. Collins, 48, of Clearwater, faces two counts of armed robbery and one count of fleeing and eluding. He was at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, where he is being treated for injuries suffered in the crash, police said.

Collins, of 1504 N. Osceola Ave., will be booked into the Pinellas County Jail once he is medically cleared.

Collins is a suspect in robberies Sunday at Dollar General, 1600 N. Myrtle Ave., and Tuesday at Family Dollar, 1279 S. Missouri Ave.

In one robbery, he brandished a machete, police said, and during the other he used a knife that injured a clerk.

Police said Collins also is a suspect in two other robberies Wednesday in Largo, at a Lowes and a CVS.

About 4 p.m. Wednesday, Collins took off in his truck during a traffic stop, then crashed into a power pole and flipped the vehicle near Palmetto Street and Casler Avenue, police said.

The machete and knife believed to have been used in the robberies were found in the truck, as were shirts worn during the crimes, police said.

Detectives released surveillance video of the robberies Wednesday.

On Sunday at Dollar General, a man picked up a pack of razor blades and went to the counter to pay for them, police said. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the suspect pulled a 12- to 18-inch machete from his pants and held it in a threatening overhand grip, police said.

The man took the cash and ran from the scene.

On Tuesday at Family Dollar, the same man took a bag of chips to the checkout area and pulled a knife from his pants pocket when the clerk opened the cash drawer, police said. He reached forward over the counter, striking the clerk in the hand with the knife, police said. The blade was 6 to 8 inches long, police said.

The clerk suffered minor injuries, police said. The man took cash and ran from the scene.

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