By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Police used Facebook and a shoe to help identify the assailant in a neighborhood grocery robbery last week.
The robbery at Mocol’s grocery was reported at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday. George Mocol reported he was jumped by a man he didn’t know while leaving the store with a money bag. After he put up a fight with that man, a Mankato man Mocol did know, 18-year-old Shaquille Deandre McNair, jumped in to help the other suspect, Mocol reported.
The robbery was stopped when Mocol’s two brothers and a nephew helped him fight off the attackers and call police.
The money bag was recovered along with a shoe and a cellphone.
McNair was arrested at the scene. The other suspect, later identified as 22-year-Gilbert Paul Neal of Chicago, ran away and wasn’t caught.
McNair and Neal were both charged with second-degree robbery Friday. But Neal, who goes by the first name Chaynce (pronounced “chance”), had not been arrested as of Monday afternoon. A nationwide warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The criminal complaints filed Friday reveal more information about how investigators linked Neal to the robbery. When McNair was interviewed after his arrest, he initially denied any involvement in the incident. But he allegedly broke down after a detective told him they would eventually identify the other suspect and then they would know he was involved.
At that point McNair told the detective he and Neal, who he only knew as Chaynce, were walking to a friend’s house to help him move when Neal said he was going to “hit” Mocol’s. Detectives went to McNair’s Facebook page and found a man named Chaynce Neal was listed as a friend. A picture on Neal’s Facebook page matched the description of the man Mocol said attempted to rob him.
A man claiming to be Gilbert Neal also called 911 and said he was told police were looking for him. That man agreed to meet with officers at the downtown Public Safety Center but never showed up, the complaint said. The cellphone that man used to call 911 is owned by the mother of McNair’s child. She told police Neal had used her phone earlier that night, but she didn’t know where he was. Investigators were able to use a crime information computer system to confirm Chaynce Neal was actually Gilbert Neal.
McNair also told police he had been staying at a woman’s residence near Mocol’s. When officers checked that house, they found a shoe that was the match for the shoe found after the robbery. The woman told police Neal had been there earlier that night and said police were looking for him. She said he was wearing only one shoe, the one that was a match. She said Neal left that shoe behind and took a different pair of shoes before leaving her residence.