Man charged with robbing Central West End ice cream shop, assaulting employee

ST. LOUIS - Prosecutors charged a 52-year-old St. Louis man for robbing a local ice cream shop and attacking an employee at the business.

According to court documents, 52-year-old Rodney Darnell Gardner walked into Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams on Tuesday and demanded money from the register. When the employee refused, Gardner punched her in the face repeatedly.

A manager at Jeni's said the assaulted employee was the manager on duty at the time of the incident and she suffered a broken nose and a black eye but should be ok.

The probable cause statement said Gardner was caught with the money after a foot chase with police, in which Gardner threatened police with a large wooden board when they confronted him.

Gardner, a convicted robber and burglar, was charged with robbery, assault and resisting arrest. A frequent customer at the shop heard that Gardner had just been released from prison two weeks ago after serving 16 years. He said more needs to be done at a state level to help ex-offenders re-acclimate.

"We need to come together, there needs to be change in order for this stuff to cease," said customer Donnell Shaw.

Shaw shared an event that is scheduled April 9 that he thinks is one step in the right direction - a job fair geared toward finding employment opportunities for ex-offenders. The job fair is April 9 at Saint Louis University. For more information, email