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La Porte Verizon store robbed on Xmas Eve

January 3, 2019

La PORTE – Two men who robbed a Verizon store on Christmas Eve were caught shortly after the holdup because officers were able to track one of the phones, according to La Porte Police.

Kentrell Hatton, 22, of Portage; and Johnny Talley Jr., 20, of Indianapolis, remain in custody at the La Porte County Jail, facing felony charges of robbery and resisting law enforcement, according to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department.

The clerk told police two men entered the business about 9 a.m. on Dec. 24 – one wearing a black mask and the other with a bandanna covering part of his face – with what appeared to be handguns under their sweatshirts, the police report said. They never displayed the firearms, but kept them pointed at her through the shirts.

One suspect jumped over the counter and the other male came around the end of the counter, she told police. They forced her to take them to the back room and open the safe. When it was open, the men took several iPhones, then grabbed her backpack and put the phones inside, dumping out all of her belongings first, the report said.

The clerk said she was “shaken up,” but not injured.

A witness saw the two men run out of the store and get into a maroon car before driving east on State Street, the report said.

La Porte police officers and La Porte County Sheriff’s deputies were able to track one of the phones and spotted the 2011 Hyundai Elantra driving northbound on Pine Lake Avenue, police said. However, after officers tried to initiate a traffic stop, the vehicle sped away.

A sheriff’s department squad car was struck by the Hyundai as it left the traffic stop, but the deputies inside were not injured, according to police.

The Hyundai drove through the intersection of Pine Lake and Severs Road, turned into the Evergreen Plaza, then went westbound on Johnson Road with three squad cars in pursuit, the report said. The car hit speeds of more than 75 mph and drove into oncoming traffic at times.

Still weaving into oncoming traffic, the Hyundai turned westbound onto CR-400N before crashing at the intersection of CR-900W near Michigan City while attempting to turn at a high rate of speed, the report said. The suspects were then taken into custody without incident, police said.

Hatton is being held on a $25,000 bond on the robbery and resisting charges, and was also wanted on a felony warrant for failure to appear on unrelated charges of false informing and possession of a look-alike drug. He is scheduled to appear in Circuit Court on Jan. 18 on the new charges; and Jan. 29 in Superior Court 4 on the older charges.

Talley is also being held on a $25,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Circuit Court on Jan. 11.

A similar robbery occurred in April 2016 at a La Porte Verizon, then located at 1407 Lincoln Way.

In that incident, two men approached a clerk with a handgun and demanded money from a register. They then drove off from the scene. The suspects’ vehicle was pursued, but also drove away from an attempted traffic stop. The chase led all the way into Michigan, where authorities abandoned the pursuit near New Buffalo.

La Porte Police said they do not believe the two cases were related.

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