Four childhood friends are facing robbery charges after police said they plotted to rob a pharmacy and two gas stations.
Police arrested Richard Fiske, Zachary Graves, Omar Markabi and Walter Pries Tuesday night after their investigation led them to western Union County.
"It appears they lived near each other during their childhood and went to the same schools during their childhood," said Sgt. Brian Scharf with CMPD.
Police said the men wore masks and used guns to rob three businesses in six days, making their getaway on motorcycles.
Officers said Fiske, Pries and Markabi were all former and current students at Porter Ridge High School in Union County; USPS officials confirmed Fiske is a current mail carrier with a Charlotte office.
Dan Pries, father of Walter Pries, said he believes his son is innocent.
"It's like being kicked in the chest. These are good kids. These aren't hardened criminals," he said.
Union County deputies arrested Pries in January 2009 because they said he brought a knife onto school property.
Seventeen-year-old Markabi, who is still a student at PRHS, was listed as a victim on another Union County Sheriff's Office report after investigators said he showed up at school in October 2012 with a bullet wound to his knee. Markabi refused to provide any other details to investigators about how he was shot, according to deputies.
Graves, who has a listed address a few houses down from Markabi, has been honorably discharged from the U.S. Army and investigators said he used military tactical wear and used military-style techniques during the robberies.
Graves also had a concealed weapons permit on file with Union County, which deputies said Wednesday had been revoked as a result of his arrest.
"There was some degree of firearms proficiency, and that concerned us. We certainly didn't want a violent confrontation," said Scharf.
All four men were arrested without incident and will face a judge on Thursday. Pries bonded out of jail, according to police, but the other three remain in jail.