A convicted felon frustrated with not being able to find a job recently told police he was worried he might return to crime.
The 39-year-old's feelings may have been proven right Wednesday when police said he pointed a handgun at the clerk at the Conoco station on West Gentry Parkway and Van Highway and threatened to kill the clerk if he did not hand over the cash.
Tyler police responded to the robbery call shortly after the noon hour and learned from an eyewitness the suspect drove away in a green-colored Chevrolet Malibu.
Don Martin, the department's public information officer, said, “Police were told that the suspect entered the store and displayed a semi-automatic handgun demanding the cash from the register. The store clerk told officers that the suspect removed the cash from the register and exited out the store…”
Officers swarmed the area looking for the man and checked several green vehicles as part of their investigation, but for hours the suspect remained at large.
But as detectives began to work various leads, an officer remembered a conversation with Mark Antonio Lee and zeroed in on the man as the possible robber.
Just after 3 p.m. patrol officers, SWAT personnel and negotiators and police chiefs all responded to a home at the corner of North Palace Avenue and Pickney Street and surrounded the location.
Traffic from Gentry Parkway north on Palace was diverted as officers gathered to hopefully take the man into custody.
After seeing the police outside the home, Lee walked out of the wood-framed home off the porch with his hands in the air and gave up.
“He called into the station a few days ago and said he was frustrated because he couldn't find a job. He said he did not want to revert back to robbing stores again,” Martin said shortly after Lee's arrest.
Lee was in the Smith County Jail Wednesday evening on $150,000 bond for a charge of aggravated robbery, according to online jail records.
Smith County judicial records show that Lee has been arrested on several robbery and burglary charges and Martin said the man just recently was released from prison.
Martin said it was unclear Wednesday if Lee had committed additional robberies, but he added detectives would be questioning the man.