York City man indicted on federal robbery charges

Ernesto Watkins

A York City man charged locally with robbing a Turkey Hill last summer now faces federal charges in the incident, according to officials.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said in a news release that Ernesto Watkins, 21, of the 300 block of West Philadelphia Street, was indicted Tuesday, Dec. 12, on robbery and firearms charges for the robbery that occurred  July 1.

U.S. Attorney David Freed said in a statement that York is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is a program to reduce violent crime and make neighborhoods safer for everyone.

Freed said his office regularly meets with the York County District Attorney's Office and York City Police to discuss cases and make decisions about which cases to prosecute in the federal system.

"We are continuing to send the message that guns bring police, shootings bring police  and involvement in gun-related crimes will subject offenders to federal prosecution," his statement reads in part.

Incident:  York City Police have said Watkins robbed the Turkey Hill at 189 S. Richland Ave. shortly after 11 p.m. that day.

Police said Watkins entered the store, pointed a gun at employees, demanded money and told them, "This ain't no joke," officials said.

Court documents state he was wearing a dark hoodie, a hat and a mask during the robbery. 

The employees gave Watkins a money pack containing a GPS tracker, documents state.

Police found Watkins by using the tracker, and after a brief chase, officers took him into custody, officials said.

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Watkins was searched, and police found the cash in his front left jeans pocket, documents state.

Authorities also found a stolen gun in the front pocket of his shorts, which he was wearing underneath his jeans, police said.

The gun, according to officials, was reported stolen out of Mount Joy in Lancaster County.

Additionally, police said Watkins does not have a license to carry a firearm.

For his local case, Watkins remains charged with robbery, receiving stolen property and carrying a firearm without a license. His local charges are still active as of Tuesday, Dec. 25, according to online court records.

He remains in York County Prison on $150,000 bail.

Watkins does not have an attorney listed for his federal case.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.