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Two charged after FBI thwart attempted bank robbery in Richmond

Published: Friday, May 10, 2013 12:32 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, May 11, 2013 11:46 p.m. CDT
(Kyle Grillot - kgrillot@shawmedia.com)
Investigators comb the Richmond Associated Bank parking lot Friday following a shootout involving FBI agents and bank robbery suspects. Joan Hyde, special agent with the Chicago division of the FBI, said the FBI was in Richmond as part of an ongoing investigation and confirmed FBI agents exchanged gunfire with the suspects.

RICHMOND – Two men have been charged with attempted bank robbery, after they were apprehended following a shootout with the FBI that left their accomplice dead in the parking lot of a Richmond bank Friday.

Aaron Russell, 40, 9200 Hunter Drive, Orland Hills, and Roberto Favela, 34, 5547 S. California Ave., Chicago, were charged late Friday with one count of attempted bank robbery, a felony offense, according to a criminal complaint released Saturday afternoon.

Both men appeared this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason this morning in federal court in Chicago, where they were formally charged and held pending their next court appearance on Tuesday morning in U.S. District Court in Rockford, the FBI stated in a news release.

Russell and the accomplice, Tony Starnes, 45, 7836 S. Marquette Ave., Chicago, were inside a Honda Civic in the parking lot of Associated Bank, 10910 N. Main St., Richmond, attempting to rob the bank late Friday morning, when FBI special agents surrounded the car, according to the complaint.

Starnes, who was driving the car, rammed an agent's vehicle, and the FBI then shot and killed Starnes, according to the complaint. Russell was in the back of the car and arrested, while Favela was simultaneously arrested in a separate car in a nearby parking lot, the complaint states.

FBI special agents had been investigating Russell and Starnes, and others who aren't named, with a string of armed robberies of Chicago area jewelry stores, according to the complaint. The FBI also alleged that Russell and Starnes were involved in a Feb. 2 armed robbery of a bank in Poplar Grove.

If convicted of the charges, Russell and Favela face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and up to three years of supervised release, the FBI stated.

Check nwherald.com or Sunday's Northwest Herald for a full report.

– Stephen Di Benedetto


ORIGINAL STORY: The parking lot of a modest, beige bank in the small town of Richmond was the scene of a shootout between FBI agents and men the bureau suspects were planning on robbing the bank.

The shootout, which occurred outside Associated Bank, 10910 N. Main St., Richmond, late Friday morning left one suspect dead, officials said. Another two were taken into custody.

The FBI had not released any names as of Friday evening. The bureau will release the names of the two in custody when charges are filed, said Joan Hyde, special agent with the Chicago division of the FBI.

The two apprehended suspects have been transported to Winnebago County.

FBI officials won't say what precipitated the shooting other than the officers acted according to the bureau's deadly force policy, in which officers use deadly force when there is an imminent threat of danger.

Hyde confirmed no agents were injured during the shooting.

Agents were in Richmond as part of an ongoing investigation out of the bureau's Chicago office, Hyde said. Authorities were called to the site about 11:30 a.m., McHenry County Undersheriff Andrew Zinke said.

FBI agents stopped the would-be robbers before they entered the bank and exchanged gunfire with the suspects, officials said.

Anderson's Candy Shop owner Leif Anderson was in the drive-thru of McDonald's, just north of the intersection of Routes 12 and 173 and about 1,000 feet south of the bank, when he saw a number of civilian vehicles speed north.

"I then heard what sounded like pop, pop, bang sort of things, and didn't know what to make of it," Anderson said.

About 30 seconds later, marked police cars from Richmond and several other departments sped by, some of them starting to set up traffic control. Several ambulances sped by shortly thereafter.

"They were flying faster than I ever saw cop cars chasing a speeder or anything," Anderson said.

Employees at Richmond Canvas, across the street from the bank, said they saw two cars they didn't recognize sitting in their parking lot, then saw them speed out. At that point, they heard what they described as rapid gunfire, the witnesses said.

An employee of NAPA Auto Parts said he saw a car speed across the bank's parking lot and strike a telephone pole, at which point gunfire ceased.

Rob Nyberg, an employee at neighboring Ace Hardware, said he heard what he believed were about nine shots fired.

"It sounded like somebody lit off a pack of fireworks in the parking lot," he said.

For hours after the shooting, a heavy police and FBI presence blocked traffic on Route 12 near Associated Bank. Traffic was diverted onto nearby Commercial Drive.

Steve Chait, who owns nearby Steve's Auto Sales, said early Friday afternoon that access to his shop and several around had been closed off since the incident late Friday morning.

"It's like a ghost town," Chait said. "I feel like I'm watching CSI."

Witnesses said earlier they saw what appeared to be a dead body in the bank parking lot.

Administrators from Nippersink School District 2 and Richmond-Burton Community High School District 157 verified that all schools were on soft lockdown at 11:45 this morning for about 25 minutes.

Representatives of Associated Bank released a statement just before 2 p.m.

"Associated has ensured that our customers and colleagues at our Richmond branch are safe and secure. We are fully cooperating with local law enforcement to help resolve the situation," the statement said.

• Northwest Herald reporters Emily K. Coleman, Kevin P. Craver and Lawerence Synett contributed to this report.

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