3 charged in robbery of churchgoers during service

BELLEVILLE (AP) — Three men are charged with armed robbery in connection with the robbery of congregants of an East St. Louis church during Sunday services.

Charged Friday were 17-year-old Howard Dotson Jr., 19-year-old Rufus Thomas Jr. and 20-year-old Kenneth Walton IV, all of East St. Louis.

St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly says the men are charged in the Jan. 27 armed robbery at Ira Grove Freewill Baptist Church.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/WJwBrE) men entered the church where about 75 people were worshipping. One of them held a gun to the minister's head and ordered the congregation to the floor. Kelly said 12 victims had cash, wallets, rings and cellphones stolen.

Each suspect faces 12 counts of armed robbery, and are being held in lieu of $2 million bail.

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