Three men were behind bars on Thursday in connection with last week's robbery and slaying of a gas station clerk.
Austin Mackenzie Cusey and Jeffrey M. Collins were taken into custody on Wednesday night by SWAT team members at a Motel 6, located at 3950 Parkway Lane in Hilliard.
Eddie Jose Murphy was arrested at a Turkey Hill gas station on U.S. Route 62 on the south side on Thursday night.
Police said that the men were charged in connection with last week's slaying of Mohamed Hassan. His body was found inside a Sunoco gas station, located at 201 W. Bridge St. on Feb 14. Police said that they believed he had been shot at about 11 p.m. on Feb. 13.
Cusey, 18, Collins, 22, and Murphy, 22, were charged with aggravated murder and aggravated robbery, police said.
"We were able to maintain surveillance on these suspects and build up some information and evidence," said Dublin police Chief Heinz von Eckartsberg. "We were able to conduct four search warrants simultaneously last night."
Investigators said that they linked the three men to a Feb. 2 robbery at a Max & Erma's restaurant, located at 411 Metro Place North, in Dublin and a Feb. 8 weapons theft at the Powder Room, located at 2450 state Route 750 in Powell. Police said that nearly 100 weapons were taken in the burglary.
Powell police Chief Gary Vest said that seven of the 97 weapons stolen from the Powder Room were recovered. Investigators did not say if any of the weapons that were stolen were used in the Sunoco robbery.
"If you have come across a firearm recently that you may be suspicious of, I would encourage you to contact your local police department to determine whether or not that weapon was stolen," Vest said.
Adham Matar, a friend of Hassan’s and the owner of the Sunoco station where Hassan was shot and killed Feb. 13, said that he had only kind words for his friend, 10TV’s Danielle Elias reported.
“(He was a) very nice guy, giving, good, you know? Good people,” Matar said. “He was such a wonderful person. A hardworking man. He loves the restaurant business. When he talks about restaurants, it’s like he talks about heaven.”
Matar said that he hired Hassan less than a month ago to help him after having tough times, Elias reported.
“That was not human, what they did to him,” Matar said. ‘I have customers, when they walk in, they keep crying.”
Matar said that he was holding on to plans that Hassan made to open a Greek restaurant in Whitehall and said that he hoped his son might carry on his father’s dream.
Joanna Reed, Hassan’s ex-wife and mother of his son, said that she and her son were troubled over what happened, Elias reported.
“No good can come of this situation,” Reed said. “These guys, they have families. They made some terrible, terrible decisions, and we want to see justice served.”
A man staying at the Motel 6 who wished not to be identified said that it took only five minutes for investigators to arrest Cusey and Collins and remove them from the motel room, 10TV’s Tanisha Mallett reported.
“Nobody warned us about nothing. It just happened,” the man said. “They got out with guns and laser lights, and the SWAT team started beating up on the doors and drug them out.”
Cusey, Collins and Murphy were living together in a northwest side apartment until Monday, when they began to sell their belongings, 10TV’s Kevin Landers reported.
Neighbor Ashley Stevens said that she had no idea that the men who lived above her were wanted in connection with a slaying.
“I was a little scared, because they just gave me a ride to the gas station on Monday, and it was kind of freaky,” Stevens said.
Stevens said that Collins, Cusey and Murphy drove up in a U-Haul on Monday and asked her if she wanted to buy a gun, Landers reported.
A note on the men’s door showed that they were evicted, Landers reported.
Cusey’s step-grandmother, Joyce Ritter, said that she could not believe that her grandson was involved in the crimes.
“I am shocked,” Ritter said. “I’m just shocked that it would be Austin. It doesn’t seem like something that Austin would do.”
Ritter said that she saw her grandson, who dropped out of West High School, last month. He told her that he wanted to be a tattoo artist.
Columbus State Community College told 10TV News that Collins attended the school but dropped out last year, Landers reported.
Val Wielezynski of La Chatelaine said that he hired Collins as a dishwasher four years ago, and he quit the next day – the same day his restaurant was robbed.
Collins was arrested for receiving stolen property in connection with that robbery.
Wielezynski said that his shop was robbed again two weeks ago, and he suspected Collins to be responsible.
“I’ve been in Dublin five years, and this is my fourth break-in,” Wielezynski said.
Stay with 10TV News and 10TV.com for continuing coverage.