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A 19-year-old Racine man could spend decades in prison for armed robbery after witnesses told police he threatened them with a gun during a fight and stole their iPhones.

Jayonte Lewis was charged Tuesday in Racine County Circuit Court with one felony count each of armed robbery and second-degree endangering safety, one misdemeanor count each of possession of marijuana and obstruction, and four felony counts of bail jumping. If convicted of all charges, he faces up to 77 years in prison and/or up to $176,000 in fines.

Criminal complaint: Armed robbery

According to the criminal complaint, two men on Sunday were at Discount Liquors on Douglas Avenue when Lewis entered the store and approached one of them with whom he has a contentious past acquaintance. The man said they went outside for what the man assumed would be a fistfight, but Lewis pulled up his sweatshirt so the man could see the gun in Lewis’ waistband.

When the man tried to leave in his vehicle, Lewis got in the passenger side, and the two proceeded to fight with the other man also engaged. The trio fell outside the car, with the man and Lewis fighting over the gun as Lewis’ finger was on the trigger after he pulled back the slide for firing the weapon. Eventually, the man pried Lewis’ grip off the gun and threw it across the parking lot.

When the other man attempted to retrieve the weapon, two additional individuals, both of whom told police they met Lewis at the store despite not knowing him very well, started to fight the other man, the complaint continues. Eventually, the other man gave up, and Lewis with the other two individuals ran away from the scene. When the men checked their persons, they realized their iPhones were gone.

Police observed two individuals walking in the alley near Discount Liquors, and when officers asked them to stop, one of them – Lewis – ran away and was seen with a black object in his hand that appeared to be a handgun. According to the criminal complaint, Lewis was taken into custody after he ran inside a residence and exited almost immediately.

A family affair thwarted

On Monday, a resident called police about an elderly man driving a young man through the alley behind their home looking for a black bag containing cell phones. This same neighbor told officers a woman who claimed to be Lewis’ mother was also driving through the alley and told them about the black bag and a gun, the complaint continues. The woman asked the neighbor to call her instead of the police if they found the gun because Lewis would be in a lot of trouble if the gun were found.

A different neighbor actually recovered the bag and phoned the police right away. The bag contained two iPhones and a small quantity of marijuana.

According to the criminal complaint, Lewis said during questioning that he fell asleep under a tree and denied being at Discount Liquors and running from police.

Lewis was assigned a $15,000 cash bond and will next be in court on June 8 for his preliminary hearing.

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