YPSILANTI, Mich. – A woman and two men were involved in a plan to ask a worker inside an Ypsilanti cellphone store several questions before tying him up, strangling him with a rope and beating him bloody, officials said. They then stole several items and fled to an apartment 1,000 feet away, according to authorities.
Worker confronted with strange questions
Deputies with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office said they received a call at 9:19 a.m. Sept. 24, 2021, from the Boost Mobile store in Ypsilanti.
The only employee working at the store told police that a woman, later identified as Anjahne Wright, had walked in and asked multiple questions about phones, the store’s inventory and prices. The woman didn’t buy anything or conduct any business, according to authorities.
“The victim found the female’s behavior suspicious as she asked many more questions than the average customer, purchased nothing, and engaged in no other business,” the criminal complaint reads.
Moments after the woman left, a man entered the store, officials said. He approached the counter and asked the same questions as the woman, according to police.
“The questions were so similar, the victim asked if the male was with the female who just left the store,” the criminal complaint says. “Immediately thereafter, two additional males entered.”
One of the men who had just entered the store approached the worker while holding his hand against his waist, officials said. The victim believes he saw an outline of a firearm or some type of weapon, court records show.
The man was wearing a COVID face mask, the victim said. He asked where the money and phones were located, then ordered the worker to the ground, according to the complaint.
The worker was told not to look at the others, and one of the men said, “Let’s just take him to the back,” authorities said.
Worker beaten, tied up
The worker was told to move to the back of the store, police said. Since he was already on the ground, he crawled to the back, according to officials.
Court records say one of the men struck the victim multiple times with his fists, and then kicked him.
The victim heard one of the men say, “Let’s just tie him up,” the criminal complaint says. He told police he then felt a rope wrapped around his neck and pulled tight.
The worker said he couldn’t breathe because of the rope. One of the men told him, “You are gonna die today,” according to authorities.
When the worker tried to grab at the rope, he was knocked down, hit and kicked again, officials said.
“Abruptly, one of the men directed the others to leave the location, and they all fled the store,” the criminal complaint says.
Several items had been stolen from the store, and the robbers also took the worker’s backpack of personal belongings, authorities said.
Police said they found a white, blood-stained rope on the floor. The worker had red marks around his neck and on his face, they said. He was also bleeding from his ear, and his eyes were swollen, according to officials.
A witness spoke with police at the scene and said there had been four people around the area before the robbery. He told them one man was wearing all black, a second man was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and a third man was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt.
Police said this matched the description of two of the men that was provided by the Boost Mobile store employee. The employee said all three men wore COVID masks, and two of them wore bright yellow gloves, according to court records.
Deputies used a K-9 to track the robbers from the store to an apartment at 2930 International Drive, which is about 1,000 feet away, according to authorities. Wright lives inside that apartment, officials said.
Washtenaw County deputies had received several reports of armed robberies connected to that location in recent days, they said.
A person nearby told police that several men had run to the building right after the robbery at Boost Mobile, the criminal complaint says.
Stolen items found
Deputies said they received a state search warrant for the apartment unit. They secured the surrounding area and saw Trevon Pickett and Nishawn Sankey exiting the building, officers said.
Police stopped Pickett and Sankey and asked them for identification. Sankey provided his real name, but Pickett gave deputies an alias, according to authorities.
Officials later learned Pickett’s true identity, but at the time, the two were released from the scene, the criminal complaint says.
During a search of the apartment, Washtenaw County deputies also searched the building’s lower level common area laundry room, they said. Two backpacks and other items were found underneath an empty trash bag inside a trash can, officials said.
Inside the trash cans, police said they found a yellow training handgun about the size and weight of a real handgun, eight masks, two pairs of bright yellow gloves, one black glove, a red hooded sweatshirt, six cellphones, multiple bluetooth devices, a portable mobile hotspot, charging cables from the Boost Mobile store and the worker’s brown backpack, which contained his passport, ID card, insurance card and other miscellaneous items.
Wright denies knowledge of robbery
Police interviewed Wright following the search, and she said she didn’t know anything about the robbery, according to the criminal complaint.
She told police that she had gone to the Dollar Tree and Subway that morning, officials said. She told them went into the Dollar Tree with three people, one known as “Bigs” and another who is a juvenile, according to authorities.
Wright said she didn’t know the name of the third man, but described him as someone who was quiet and usually wore a mask, court records show.
She said she had gone into the Boost Mobile store to pay her bill, but decided it wasn’t fully opened and she couldn’t pay, so she walked out, according to police.
Wright said she then returned to her apartment. She didn’t mention an armed robbery, officials said.
When authorities provided her a photo of Sankey, Wright identified him as “Bigs,” the criminal complaint says. Police showed her a picture of Pickett, and she said she wasn’t sure if he was the third person who had been at Dollar Tree, officials said.
Sankey, Pickett arrested
Sankey was arrested Oct. 27 by United States Marshals in connection with the robbery, police said. He told officials that he had participated in the robbery and was present with Wright and Pickett at the Dollar Tree store beforehand, according to authorities.
U.S. Marshals arrested Pickett the same day in connection with the robbery. He admitted to being at the Dollar Tree but denied knowing Wright or Sankey, the criminal complaint says.
Sankey told authorities that he had provided a false name outside the apartment building, but said he had nothing to do with the robbery, officials said.
Surveillance video from Dollar Tree
Police checked surveillance footage from the Dollar Tree, which is about 500 feet from the Boost Mobile store, they said.
Video showed that Wright, Sankey, Pickett and another person had purchased one fruit punch drink and two pairs of bright yellow safety gloves around 8:59 a.m. the day of the Boost Mobile robbery, according to court records.
Officials said the group exited the store together, but Pickett re-entered about four minutes later and bought a white rope.
The Boost Mobile robbery happened 16 minutes after that purchase, authorities said.
DNA recovered from a pair of the bright yellow gloves found at the apartment building belonged to Pickett, officials said. His DNA was also on a black glove and a black COVID face mask, the complaint says.
During a second interview, Wright confirmed that Sankey was “Bigs” and that Pickett was the third person “involved” in the incident, according to authorities.
Charges and allegations
The criminal complaint concludes that Wright, Sankey and Pickett “did knowingly and intentionally interfere with interstate commerce by threats or acts of violence, and/or aid and abet in the interference with interstate commerce.”
Sankey, who is either 19 or 20 years old, confessed to robbing the Boost Mobile store, officials said.
There’s probable cause that Wright, who is either 21 or 22 years old, aided and abetted the robbery when she entered the store to survey and scene in preparation for the others, the complaint concludes.
That conclusion is supported by her being with the others at the Dollar Tree and entering the store to ask suspicious questions, officials said. The robbers were also tracked to her apartment building, and the stolen items were found there, as well, according to authorities.
Wright lied to police about going into the Boost Mobile store to pay her bill, court records show. She also lied about not knowing Pickett’s identity during her first interview, police said.
The evidence against Pickett, who is either 19 or 20 years old, includes being with the others when they bought bright yellow gloves before the robbery and purchasing a white rope that was used to strangle the worker, according to officials.
He was stopped while leaving Wright’s apartment and provided a fake name to law enforcement, the criminal complaint alleges.
Pickett’s DNA was found in a pair of the yellow gloves, a separate black glove and a COVID mask that were recovered with items stolen from the store, police said.
You can watch Grant Hermes’ breakdown of this incident in the video below.