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Armed robbers in Fort Wayne strike five times Tuesday

Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 10:38 am

In just 20 hours Tuesday, Fort Wayne Police investigated five armed robberies or attempted robberies, from a northside-suburban fast-food restaurant to a discount store on Bluffton Road. No one was seriously injured in the robberies, and police have not said whether they think any of the robberies or attempted robberies are connected.

Steak 'n Shake, 5402 Meijer Drive

About 2:40 a.m. Tuesday, police were called to the Steak 'n Shake near Meijer along Illinois Road. There they found employees and customers who had been shaken by their encounter with two men wearing handkerchiefs over their faces. One was armed with a gun, the other with a baseball bat.

They ordered employees out from behind the counter; at the same time, two other employees in a more remote part of the restaurant saw the robbery in progress and locked themselves in a cooler and did not emerge until police arrived.

Witnesses told police that one of the men came around the counter, looked in the register, and said, “There's nothing here.” They left. Allen County Sheriff's officers attempted to track them with a police dog, but the suspects have not been found.

4500 block of Hanna Street

At around 3:40 a.m. Tuesday, Fort Wayne Police were sent to a home in the 4500 block of Hanna to investigate a robbery that reportedly had taken place there about an hour earlier.

The victim told police that he had been “gambling” in the house with a group of other people, then decided to leave. He found that the door was locked from the inside. He said he asked the woman who lived there for the key. She went to another room, and while she was gone, he said, a man armed with shotgun confronted him and demanded his money. The victim said he gave him $20 and his shoes. The victim said he scuffled with the man holding the shotgun and then escaped through a window.

The victim said he was hit in the face twice with the butt of the shotgun, dragged down a flight of stairs and punched in the face. But he refused medical attention Tuesday night.

Police converged on the house soon after receiving the victim's report. They rounded up several people fleeing from the house, but the victim could not identify any of them as having been involved in robbing him.

Police also said they found children ages 13, 11 and 8 years old on the second floor of the home. An officer who stayed with the children during the search of the house and questioning of people there reported that the kids said they did not hear any “commotion” at the reported time of the robbery; however, they also said it “would not be out of the ordinary for there to be a lot of people getting drunk and making noise while they are trying to sleep.”

A shotgun, which police said had been reported as stolen, was found in an area where the children could have had access to it easily, and one of the officers took 31 pictures of conditions of house, which the officer said was filled with trash and moldy food.

6500 block of Alvarez Drive

At about 3:14 p.m. Tuesday, Fort Wayne Police were dispatched to the 6500 block of Alvarez Drive, off Maplecrest Road north of State Boulevard, where a man reported that he had been robbed.

The victim told police he had been sitting in his car when two men approached him from the west and demanded his wallet and rings. He gave them his wallet. As they ran off, the victim told police, the victim “drew his personal weapon” and told them to stop “because he had a gun on them.” One of them threw something over a fence, the victim told police, then both kept running.

Police searching the area did not find suspects in the robbery, but they found what they described as an Airsoft or other toy gun in the area where the victim saw one of the robbers throw something. Police took that toy gun as evidence.

Dollar General, 1850 Bluffton Road

At about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Fort Wayne Police were dispatched to the Dollar General store, 1850 Bluffton Road, after an armed robbery was reported there.

Witnesses told police that a short white man, 5 feet 2 or 5 feet 3 inches tall, wearing blue jeans, a red baseball cap, tan jacket and a white bandana around his face demanded money from a cash drawer. He threatened a store employee with a knife reported as 12-14 inches long; the employee gave him the entire till, containing an amount of money police did not disclose.

At about the same time, a witness at a nearby store saw a similarly sized short man run for the passenger side of a small, dark-colored coupe, yelling, “Open the door! Open the door!” At the time, that witness thought the urgency in the man's message was related to the rainy weather, he told police.

Arby's, 9831 Lima Road

Three would-be robbers got nothing when they tried to hold up an Arby's restaurant near Dupont Road about 10:45 p.m. Tuesday. All three suspects in the robbery were about 5 feet 10 inches tall; at least two were armed with handguns, according to witnesses. One of the men pushed an employee down to the floor, but she turned and ran for the drive-through window. She jumped through the window, intending to run for a nearby McDonald's to summon help, scraping her shin and and her arm when she went through the window. But when the robbers saw she had run out, they ran out after her. She saw them leave the store, she told police, and she turned around and ran back inside the Arby's and locked the store. A map of Tuesday's crime scenes

View String of robberies on Tuesday in a larger map