Attempted robbery suspect faces a judge

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The man police say barricaded himself inside the Ace Cash Express in Virginia Beach on Friday faced a judge Monday afternoon.

Clarence Brown is charged with attempted robbery, abduction and weapons charges. He appeared at a video arraignment and asked the judge to appoint a public defender.

Court papers show Brown allegedly “robbed an employee at gunpoint, forced an employee to go into multiple rooms and into the safe, with his hand on her neck and a gun in her back.” He was in there for 20 to 30 minutes, according to the court documents, before he surrendered to police. No one was hurt.

Family members watched the brief hearing. Brown’s cousin Lisa Sallie told he was apparently there to cash a check from work: “I think he had a mental break, and to get to the bottom of things he needs a psych evaluation.”

Brown’s sister said some family members have a history of mental illness.

“It’s the illness that has taken over him. It’s happened over generations,” she said. “I’m just praying we can get him the help he needs, and spiritually, I’m just praying that God delivers him.”

Brown has a preliminary hearing set for July 24. While he asked the court to have a public defender represent him, his family plans to hire an attorney.

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