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2 charged in Richmond bank shootout; details emerge

(Kyle Grillot – kgrillot@shawmedia.com )
A police officer at the intersection of Route 12 and Route 173 in Richmond directs traffic away from the crime scene Friday at the Associated Bank, 10910 N. Main St. Two men appeared in federal court Saturday in Chicago on charges of attempted robbery.

RICHMOND – Two men were charged with attempted bank robbery after FBI agents tracked them from Chicago and cornered them in a parking lot of a Richmond bank, where agents killed their accomplice Friday.

Aaron Russell, 40, 9200 Hunter Drive, Orland Hills, and Roberto Favela, 34, 5547 S. California Ave., Chicago, were each charged late Friday with one count of felony attempted bank robbery, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.

Both men appeared Saturday morning in federal court in Chicago, where they were formally charged and held pending their next court appearance Tuesday morning in Rockford.

In a sworn affidavit filed Friday, FBI Special Agent Terry Heatherman said authorities shot and killed an accomplice, Tony Starnes, 45, 7836 S. Marquette Ave., Chicago, after he rammed a Honda Civic into one of the agent’s vehicles at the parking lot of Associated Bank, 10910 N. Main St., Richmond, late Friday morning.

The sound of gunshots was the first notice for many surrounding businesses and residents that something was awry in the small town of Richmond, but the FBI had been investigating Russell and others for a string of armed robberies of Chicago area jewelry stores. Russell and Starnes also were being investigated for a Feb. 2 bank robbery in Poplar Grove, authorities said.

The FBI’s surveillance started Friday after agents saw Favela driving a 2004 Chevy Tahoe and Starnes driving a 2005 Honda Civic that had been reported stolen in Chicago in December, according to Heathermen’s affidavit.

The two cars traveled from Chicago to an undisclosed location in Wisconsin near the Illinois border, where FBI agents saw Russell leave the Tahoe and enter the back seat of the Civic, according to the affidavit.

The FBI then followed the cars to Richmond, where the Civic drove past Associated Bank, made a U-turn and parked in front of the bank. The Tahoe then parked in the same lot farther away, the affidavit states.

FBI agents immediately surrounded the Civic, then Starnes rammed an agent’s car, causing authorities to shoot and kill him. They then apprehended Russell, who was wearing a mask and gloves, according to the affidavit.

Authorities also arrested Favela in the driver’s seat of the Tahoe.

After waiving his Miranda rights, Russell said in an interview with the FBI that he, Starnes and Favela met in Chicago to rob the bank in Richmond, the affidavit states.

Russell explained that Starnes picked the Richmond bank because he was familiar with the area. Russell and Starnes circled the bank to allow customers to leave while Favela served as lookout for police, according to the affidavit.

Russell also told authorities that he had two handguns in the back seat of the Civic and that Starnes had a gun on the front seat of the Tahoe, the affidavit states.

“Russell said the goal was not to hurt anyone inside the bank, but that the firearms were real,” Heatherman said in the affidavit.

Russell had been previously convicted of armed robbery in 2004 and 1991, FBI officials said. If convicted of the charges, Russell and Favela face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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