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3 arrested in sweep
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Three men were arrested after drawing attention of a combined force of law enforcement officers beginning a three-night crime sweep Thursday.

Participants in the operation “Total Focus” watched the three men, all convicted felons, "study two convenience stores before confronting them at a third store at Waters Avenue and Victory Drive."

After capturing one of the men in a foot chase, officers found marijuana, gloves and a stolen firearm. The arrests were among several performed by the task force Thursday, including another man found with a stolen pistol in a later case.

“This was a text book example of police work and cooperative efforts between law enforcement agencies,” said Maj. Richard Zapal, operation commander. “Our goal was to take the fight to those who would commit the crime and it couldn’t get any better than this. We will continue to investigate to determine if we interrupted crimes in the planning stages or if we just took three convicted felons off the street. Either way we were successful.”

Robert Douglas Morgan, 29, of the 1300 block of East 34th Street, was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, obstruction and theft by receiving. Lawrence Sheppard Jr., 41, of, the 600 block of West 31st Street, was charged with operating a vehicle without a license plate and possession of marijuana. And Joseph Maurice Hamilton Jr., 40, of a Berwick Lakes Boulevard address in Pooler, was charged with possession of marijuana.

A captain participating in the operation of more than 75 officers first noticed the blue 1994 Oldsmobile 88 driven by Sheppard at a convenience store near LaRoche and Delesseps avenues when one man walked to the front of the store and another walked to the back.

Officers followed the car to another area where similar activities were observed and then to the third store where they surrounded the car. Morgan ran across the intersection to a church parking lot where a pursuing officer heard him drop and item later identified as a stolen handgun and secured him after he fell.

About 2:10 a.m. this morning, officers noticed Kareem Byrd enter a convenience store near Waters and Derenne avenues smelling of marijuana. When they questioned him, they found marijuana, drug-related objects and a stolen pistol in his vehicle. He was charged with traffic offenses, possession of marijuana, theft by receiving stolen property and possession of drug-related objects.