Online robber charged in armed ripoff

Sunday Times Newspapers

LINCOLN PARK — A man with distinctive tattoos who was well-known in his neighborhood was quickly taken into custody and charged with armed robbery after allegedly
taking an expensive watch from a would-be seller he’d met online.

Gerald Ray Hinson Jr., 28, was arraigned July 9 before 25th District Court Judge David Zelenak and charged with armed robbery, a felony punishable by up to life in prison.

According to police reports, Hinson had posed as a buyer named “Aaron Turner” who’d answered a notice posted by a 19-year-old Lincoln Park man on Facebook’s “Detroit Buy and Sell” page. After a series of text messages, Hinson
allegedly agreed to purchase a $500 Techno X watch.

A meeting was set for July 6 at Zukin’s Rib Shack, 867 Dix. Hinson had falsely told the seller he worked at the restaurant.

The man was accompanied by two friends.

They told police that Hinson approached them on foot after they’d parked in front of the business, and spoke through the side window with the seller.

After negotiating a price for the watch, Hinson allegedly
reached into a back pocket and withdrew a small, black handgun which he pointed at the seller’s head.

“This is a robbery,” Hinson allegedly yelled. He took the watch and, walking backward toward the alley, kept the weapon aimed at the seller.

The seller and his friends called police.

Investigators questioned store employees who recognized
a description of Hinson — as a customer not an employee — based partly on a “313” tattoo on his neck and “SUR 313” over an eyebrow.

Police learned that Hinson lived in a nearby apartment complex on Hamilton, where he was soon located and taken into custody.

A preliminary examination of the evidence against him is scheduled for Tuesday. Hinson remained in custody and had not met a bond of 10 percent of $100,000.

(James Mitchell can be reached at