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Police nab invasion suspect

LILBURN -- After identifying a man they called a "career criminal" as a suspect in a violent March home invasion earlier this week, Lilburn police set up a sting through his parole officer Thursday, taking him into custody in DeKalb County.

In the early morning hours of March 16, police say 39-year-old Atlanta resident Gerald Demonte Wilkins and three accomplices stormed into a Harvard Drive home, armed and violent. Shots were exchanged between the suspects and one resident after Wilkins and his colleagues beat and zip-tied other family members.

Using blood droplets on a broken shard of glass to ID Watkins through the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's DNA database, Lilburn police issued a warrant for his arrest on Monday.

Thursday, they asked Watkins' Decatur-based parole officer to set up a fake appointment.

"His probation officer called him in," Lilburn police Capt. Bruce Hedley said, "and when he did, we were waiting on him."

Watkins now faces charges of armed robbery, aggravated assault and false imprisonment.

A background check showed no previous arrests in Gwinnett County, but a history of charges including "voluntary manslaughter, murder, discharge of firearms, dangerous drugs, terroristic threats and acts and multiple other charges," the warrant for Watkins' arrest read.

"He has a lengthy criminal history," Hedley said. "Most of his violent past has been in Atlanta. He had been arrested by Atlanta police more than 15 times on violent crimes."

Police were in the process of interviewing Watkins Thursday afternoon, hoping he would reveal information about the other three suspects, who were originally described only as black males.