Piper City teens arraigned on attempted aggravated robbery charge

PAXTON — Two Piper City teenagers who allegedly entered a bank in Roberts while wearing disguises and pointing BB-guns at people on Halloween morning were arraigned Friday in Ford County Circuit Court on a felony charge of attempted aggravated robbery.

Ford County State’s Attorney Matt Fitton on Thursday afternoon charged Ryan A. Redmon, 19, and Damon J. Lee, 18, in connection with Wednesday’s crime at the Vermilion Valley Bank, 136 E. Green St., Roberts.

Each was charged with one count of attempted aggravated robbery, a Class 2 felony punishable by three to seven years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine.

At Fitton’s request, Judge Steve Pacey on Friday morning set bond at $100,000 for Redmon and $75,000 for Lee. Both remained at the Ford County Jail on Friday.

Pacey appointed public defender David Rumley of Urbana to represent Redmon. Rumley is also representing Redmon in a pending residential burglary case in Ford County.

Meanwhile, Harvey Welch of Urbana was appointed to represent Lee.

Pacey set a preliminary hearing for 11:15 a.m. Nov. 19.

Fitton said following the arraignment that he charged each with attempted aggravated robbery, rather than attempted armed robbery, because the guns used were not real firearms, but rather “very good-looking imitations.”

Sheriff Mark Doran said Friday that the guns were CO2-charged BB-pistols, which appeared to be black semi-automatic handguns.

Doran declined to comment on whether the teens were intending to rob the bank or instead were pulling a Halloween prank.

“I won’t comment about the statements they made to us,” Doran said.

Redmon and Lee never demanded or took any money while in the bank, Doran confirmed, and no injuries were reported.

Meanwhile, the document charging the two teens alleges that they “performed a substantial step toward the commission” of a robbery through their actions.

That the teens entered the bank wearing disguises and carrying what appeared to be handguns “would lead a reasonable person to believe an armed robbery was taking place,” Lt. Curtis Miller of the Ford County Sheriff’s Office stated in a sworn statement of arrest filed in court.

Doran said an employee of the bank in downtown Roberts reported that two men wearing masks entered the bank shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday while pointing handguns at people and yelling.

One of the men was wearing a skull mask and a hooded sweatshirt, while the other wearing a scarf over his mouth and sunglasses and a hooded sweatshirt, Doran said.

Doran said several employees of the bank and a couple of customers were present.

The men ordered the people in the bank to come to the center of the bank’s lobby and lay on the floor, but no one complied with the order, as most were caught by surprise and did not have time to react, Doran said.

Doran said the men were in the bank for “less than 40 seconds” before they left abruptly.

Employees of Roberts Grain Co., 108 N. Main St., saw the men prior to them entering the bank, and then saw them leaving the bank in a sport utility vehicle and turn onto Illinois 115, Pacey said at the arraignment, reading from a police report. The vehicle’s license plate number was reported to police, Pacey said.

As the Ford County Sheriff’s Office, Piper City Police Department and Illinois State Police were en route to the scene, a vehicle matching the description provided by witnesses was located by police about a mile south of Piper City.

Piper City Police Chief Fred Fanning pulled over the vehicle — a blue Chevrolet Blazer — which was registered to Redmon, Pacey said.

The stop occurred at Ford County Road 2300 North, about a half-mile east of County Road 1400 East, Doran said.

Redmon and Lee were arrested without incident, Doran said.

The BB-guns that police believed were used in the crime were recovered from a field near where the traffic stop occurred, Doran said. The disguises, as well as other undisclosed evidence, were recovered from the vehicle, Doran said.

Doran declined to say whether police believe anyone else was involved in the crime. The investigation continues, he said.

Besides being charged with aggravated attempted robbery, Lee was ticketed for reckless driving, operating an uninsured vehicle and failure to wear a seat belt by a driver. Redmon was ticketed for failure to wear a seat belt by a passenger, according to court records.

Court records show that Redmon was out on bond for a residential burglary charge. Redmon was charged with residential burglary, a Class 1 felony, on Sept. 13 and pleaded not guilty. A pretrial hearing in that case is set for 11 a.m. Nov. 13, and his jury trial was tentatively scheduled for January.

Pacey advised Redmon at Friday’s arraignment that if he were convicted of the residential burglary charge and the attempted aggravated robbery charge, then he would be required to serve consecutive sentences.

Redmon also was charged with illegal possession of alcohol by a minor in a public place in March. He pleaded guilty and received six months of court supervision.

Lee has no criminal history in Ford or Iroquois counties.

“As far as the charges these two men face, it does not matter that the handguns were not real,” Doran said in a written statement. “The employees and patrons at the bank believed they were real.

“We are very fortunate no one was injured or killed, and it appears these two young men have made some very poor decisions.”

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