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Man being held in robbery, chase

A Woodbridge man was being held in connection with an armed robbery at a Spotsylvania County grocery store and subsequent crash following a police chase, authorities said Monday.

A man walked into the Food Lion in the Salem Fields Shopping Center on Salem Fields Boulevard at 6:04 p.m. on Monday, and then approached several customers and store employees, Capt. Jeff Pearce of the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office said

The man displayed a black semi-automatic firearm and demanded money, Pearce said.

A female employee was assaulted during the robbery but did not need medical attention, Pearce said.

The man left with an undisclosed amount of money in a vehicle, he said.

Witnesses were able to provide 911 operators with a description of the man and the vehicle, which was later spotted by a Spotsylvania deputy.

Lt. Steve Clem saw the vehicle driving along Plank Road near Spotsylvania Towne Centre and attempted to stop him, Pearce said.

The man then tried to flee and crashed his car into another vehicle in the westbound lane of Plank Road at the main entrance to the Central Park shopping area, Pearce said.

Plank Road was closed in that area for more than an hour as a result of the crash.

The driver, Andre Jovon Jenkins, 30, was taken into custody without further incident.

The sheriff’s investigators were preparing charges to be placed in connection with the robbery. Other charges may also be placed.

The Food Lion was closed after the incident but reopened at 7:53 p.m.

Several shoppers arrived to pick up groceries while it was closed and all expressed surprise that a robbery happened in that neighborhood.

“Who robs here? It’s so quiet here,” one woman remarked when she was turned away.

Gene Austin stopped by with his grandson for some salad supplies and was disappointed that crime had hit the area.

“Someone always has to ruin something,” he said. “Usually, I stop here after work.”

Sheronda Wingo and her daughter, Dorriane, wanted to pick up supplies so the eighth-grader could make brownies for a meeting on Tuesday at Post Oak Middle School. They left in search of another grocery store after learning of the robbery.

“I always thought it was safe. You think it’s not going to happen around where you live but you never know,” Sheronda Wingo said. “Everyone has been in hard times but it’s a choice to go out and steal.”

Food Lion spokeswoman Christy Phillips–Brown said none of the employees were injured during the incident.

She said Food Lion is thankful deputies had arrested a suspect but said the company was going to take additional security steps starting on Tuesday as a result of the incident.

”The safety of our associates and customers is a top priority, and we’re pleased everyone is safe. Given this situation, we will implement additional security measures at this store, including adding a security guard,” Phillips–Brown said.

Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419