Warrant issued after Pizza Ranch robbery suspect a no-show in court

By Patrick Lynn

Portage Co. Circuit Court Judge Robert Shannon has issued an arrest warrant for a man suspected of robbing a Plover location of Pizza Ranch restaurant.

Semaj Amaru Gwyn, 21, missed his preliminary hearing on Monday. He was released in April on a $2,500 cash bond.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Zell said Gwyn, admitted to police that he’d robbed the Pizza Ranch, 1300 Commerce Pl. on April 10.

According to the incident report from the Plover Police Department, Gwyn entered Pizza Ranch through the south door shortly before the restaurant closed for the night. Gwyn reportedly approached the manager from behind and placed “what felt like a gun to the back of his head” and said, “I’m taking the money”.

Gwyn then grabbed the bank bag, which contained $680 in cash, and ran out the door while brandishing a handgun, Zell said.

“(The manager) saw the shininess from the barrel of the gun raised and pointed at him prior to the suspect stating, ‘Don’t pick those up or I’ll shoot you’,” Zell said.

When police arrived, store employees described Gwyn as a black male wearing a ski mask and grey, hooded, sweatshirt, who fled the scene on foot towards the south.

Multiple officers from Plover, Stevens Point, Portage Co., and Wisconsin State Patrol all responded to the scene, along with a Stevens Point K9 unit, which was called to the scene to assist in tracking Gwyn.

The K9 officer located a grey bank bag, a pair of jeans, a latex glove, a black ski mask, a headband, and Gwyn’s sweatshirt in a parking area just south of the I-39 ramp.

The items were found “within minutes” of officers responding to the scene, Zell said.

Soon after finding those items, Zell said, officers found a man matching the description provided by restaurant employees, a man who was “well underdressed for the weather”, wearing only a black t-shirt and blue sweatpants. He was located near Hoover Ave. and Plover Springs Dr., according to police.

Gwyn was reportedly taken into custody without incident. Upon questioning, Zell said Gwyn admitted to driving to the restaurant and “forming a last-minute plan to rob the Pizza Ranch”. Gwyn reportedly told officers he wore layers of clothing that night for warmth due to the unseasonably cold weather, and he carried the ski mask and latex gloves for work.

Gwyn’s profession was not listed in court documents.

“He learned from an acquaintance at Pizza Ranch that they don’t lock their safe and the back door was often unlocked,” Zell said, but Gwyn denied to officers that he was carrying a gun, saying he pulled his sleeve over his hand to “give the impression of a gun”.

Gwyn is being charged with a single count of armed robbery.

As a condition of his bond, Gwyn is prohibited from carrying dangerous weapons and having contact with Pizza Ranch or its employees.

Anyone with information on Gwyn’s whereabouts should contact the Plover Police Department at (715) 345-5255.