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Former Army private sentenced in Swansea store robbery

EAST ST. LOUIS – Denzell D. Grant, 20, a former resident of South Carolina, who was an Army private stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, at the time of the offense, was sentenced Friday for his part in a Swansea store robbery and shooting.

He was sentenced for interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act robbery) and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, Stephen R. Wigginton, United States attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, said.

The Hobbs Act makes it a crime to obstruct, delay, or affect interstate commerce by robbery, and is used by Wigginton’s office, he said, as a way to combat armed robbery in the Southern District.

Grant was sentenced to a total of 180 months in federal prison, consisting of 30 months on Count 1 and 150 months on Count 2, each sentence to run consecutively. Grant’s sentence of imprisonment is to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release on each count, to run concurrently. Grant was also ordered to pay $10,500 in restitution to “R.B.,” the victim of the armed robbery, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment on each count, for a total special assessment of $200. Because of the amount of the restitution imposed, the Court waived the imposition of a fine.

“Since I announced this initiative [the anti-armed robbery initiative], I have been warning
people of the serious consequences of their acts. This case illustrates my point – if you want to be locked away, far from family and friends, keep doing these senseless acts. This is a well-deserved prison sentence for someone who simply should have had better sense. Thank God that no one lost their life over a few dollars,” Wigginton said.

The offense occurred on Oct. 13, 2013, when Grant drove to Swansea with other individuals stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, one of whom had family in Swansea. While in Swansea, Grant and the other individuals developed a plan to rob Max’s One Stop in Swansea. Grant, wearing a mask and armed with a loaded gun, entered the store and jumped over the counter, which led to the area where the lone clerk, R.B., was sitting.

Grant put the gun to R.B.’s head and told R.B. to give Grant all of the money. Grant held the gun on R.B. as Grant followed R.B. to the cash register. As R.B. was giving Grant the cash from the register, R.B. stated that Grant told him that Grant was “here to kill him (R.B.).” Hearing this, R.B. decided to grab the gun and the two began struggling over the gun. During the struggle, the firearm discharged, injuring R.B.’s left hand and striking Grant in the right arm.

After being shot, Grant tried to escape by jumping over the counter into the customer area. At the same time, a customer who knew R.B. walked into the convenience store and heard R.B. call for help. The customer and R.B., who now had possession of Grant’s gun, helped prevent Grant from escaping until police arrived.

The case was investigated by the Swansea Police Department, the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.

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