Grandmother helps police identify serial robber in Minneapolis

Minneapolis police say a grandmother was able to help officers make a suspect identification this month as they investigated a series of robberies in the city that police say were committed by her granddaughter's boyfriend.

In a new set of charges made public on Tuesday, police say the case started with a robbery on April 3 at a market along East 35th Street, just east of Bloomington Avenue in the Powderhorn neighborhood. In that incident, police say the suspect went into the shop, asked for a pack of cigarettes, and pulled a gun when the clerk turned away.

According to the charges, the suspect, identified as 22-year-old Matthew Dereck Howell, racked the gun and told the clerk "I'm not playing. I will shoot this b---- right now." According to police, Howell grabbed cash from the register and left the store. He got away with about $500, according to investigators.

However, security cameras captured the suspect getting out and back into a white Cadillac with apparent vanity plates that was parked in an alley that runs along with the store.

Police tracked back the plates to the owner, who told police she'd loaned the Cadillac to her granddaughter. Reviewing surveillance photos, police say the grandmother was able to identify the suspect as Howell, her granddaughter's boyfriend.

Since then, police have linked Howell to two other similar robberies at markets along East Franklin Avenue. In one of the incidents, police say Howell actually fired a shot that went between a clerk and another person in the store.

Police are still searching for Howell.