Safaree Samuels Knows One of His Alleged Robbers Took Pic With Him & Nicki

4/5/2018 10:05 AM PDT

Safaree Samuels Knows One of Alleged Robbers, Posed with Him & Nicki Minaj

EXCLUSIVE

Safaree Samuels' armed robbery hits closer to home than he might've thought, cause he knows one of his alleged assailants very well ... TMZ has learned.

TMZ has obtained a photo Safaree took with his then-girlfriend, Nicki Minaj, and one of the men arrested in connection to the crime ... Shawn Harewood.

Sources tell us the pic was taken in either 2011 or 2012 at a club in Queens for Safaree's birthday. We're told Safaree and Shawn are old friends -- Safaree's known him since he was 14 years old. However, we're told they haven't spoken since Safaree's breakup from Nicki.

As we reported ... Harewood and another man, Jonathan Ricketts, were caught and arrested shortly after the alleged armed robbery this week. They were captured on foot in upper Manhattan after police pursued them over the George Washington Bridge from NJ.

Safaree's attorney, James Leonard Jr., told us this was not a random attack, and that his client was lucky to escape unscathed. The rapper told cops about $183k in cash and jewelry were stolen.

We've reached out to Safaree's attorney about the connection to Harewood -- he had no comment.