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Cops searching for suspect in 8 armed robberies

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Rufus Jerome Smith

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett County police have asked for the public's help finding an armed and dangerous suspect believed responsible for a series of armed robberies across northern Gwinnett.

Rufus Jerome Smith, 25, is wanted on multiple aggravated assault, armed robbery and other charges. Police believe he has targeted at least eight gas stations and convenience stores -- primarily in the Buford area -- in recent months. Six have taken place since April 30.

Shots were fired at two of the robberies, but no injuries were reported.

Smith is described as a black man about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds, with the word "MAN" tattooed on his right shoulder. He should be considered armed and dangerous, police said, and anyone encountering him should call 911. Anyone with information should call detectives at 770-513-5300 or Crime Stoppers at 770-577-TIPS.

The long list of robberies began, police said, last Dec. 21 at the Nalley Service Station at 5671 Shadburn Ferry RoadSubsequent robberies occurred Jan. 22 at the Chevron gas station at 2655 Buford Highway; April 30 at the Marathon gas station at 2380 Peachtree Industrial Blvd.; May 3 at the Shell gas station at 1945 Buford Highway; May 6 at the Chevron gas station at 2820 Hamilton Mill Road; May 8 at the Shell gas station at 1158 Buford Highway; and May 10 at Exxon gas station at 215 Peachtree Industrial Blvd.

All of the above robberies were in Buford and handled by Gwinnett County police. Investigators also believe Smith robbed the Chevron gas station at 310 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. in Suwanee on May 3.

According to incident reports obtained by the Daily Post, police believe Smith hid outside the majority of his targeted stores until the final late-night customers departed, then entered with his face covered by a mask and gun out.

Though video footage was available for most of the robberies, detectives may have caught a big break when, according to police reports, Smith touched a pack of cigarettes before dropping and leaving them at the scene of one of his alleged crimes.

Police have already arrested and charged 27-year-old Buford resident Layman Sherman for his alleged role in the robberies. Sherman and a female, identified as Carson Denard, were detained after a Gwinnett police officer pulled them over in a car matching the description of the lookout vehicle from the crime scenes.

Sherman has been charged with aggravated assault, armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Denard was charged with felony false statements, police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said.