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Two Chicago men charged with three-month string of store holdups

Sun-Times file photo

Two Chicago men have been charged with a three-month string of store holdups on the South and West sides, and in the suburbs.

Henry Fabela and Emanuel Gavin, both 24, are charged with robbery in a federal criminal complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court.

The robberies happened between Jan. 24 and April 28 at cellphone stores, gas stations and convenience stores; and all had the same pattern, according to the complaint.

The first robbery happened at 4:34 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Metro PCS store at 3641 W. 83rd Pl., according to the complaint. Gavin entered the store wearing a white surgical mask, and pointed a black semi-automatic handgun at the employee.

Gavin said, “You don’t want to die today. Head to the back of the store,” according to the complaint. The employee obeyed and Gavin ordered the employee to empty their pockets into a blue Walmart tote bag. He then ordered the employee to return to the front of the store and empty the cash register. The employee got about $80 and put the money into the tote bag, and Gavin left the store.

On Feb. 28, a juvenile was taken into Chicago Police custody for having a stolen iPhone 5, according to the complaint. The phone had been taken during an armed robbery at a Metro PCS store on Feb. 3 in Chicago. The robbery fit the pattern of robberies that were under investigation by the FBI.

Officers found pictures on the cellphone of a juvenile and another person on the phone that fit the profile of the person being sought for the armed robberies, according to the complaint. The officers showed the juvenile’s guardian the photos, and the guardian identified the man as Gavin, the juvenile’s cousin.

Another robbery happened at 6:36 p.m. April 21 at a Metro PCS store at 5838 W. Roosevelt Ave., according to the complaint. Gavin entered the store wearing a white surgical mask, approached an employee and asked for a Samsung phone charger. He walked around the store and left before a second person entered the store.

After the second person left, Gavin returned, approached the register, unzipped his hooded sweatshirt, showed the employee a black handgun and said, “Give me all the money,” according to the complaint. The employee gave him $500 from the register, and Gavin left.

About 4:30 p.m. April 25, Gavin entered a gas station at West 2nd Street and Addison Avenue in Elmhurst wearing a blue surgical mask and asked for a pack of Newport 100s, according to the complaint. The employee asked Gavin for ID for the cigarettes, and he responded, “They card hard out here.” He then said, “I got a big ass gun. Open the drawer.”

The employee asked why, and Gavin told the employee, “I’ll shoot ya” and displayed a gun, according to the complaint. The employee gave him all the cash in the register, and he left.

Surveillance video caught Gavin running out of the store and to the back of the station, where a black Jeep Patriot was parked, according to the complaint. He got in the vehicle, which was driven by a second person, and they left.

The Jeep was similar to one seen at two similar armed robberies of 7-Eleven stores in Skokie, an armed robbery of a Metro PCS store in Chicago, the robbery of a Cricket store in Berwyn, and the armed robbery of a Metro PCS store in Homewood, according to the complaint.

The FBI learned from Chicago Police that after the April 11 robbery of a Metro PCS store, the suspect left in a black 2014 Jeep Patriot, according to the complaint. They ran the plate and found it was registered to Fabela, who lives in the Southwest Side Ashburn neighborhood. Gavin had recently registered a vehicle to an address just three blocks away.

At 5:50 p.m. Friday, Gavin robbed a Metro PCS store in the 2200 block of South Western, according to the complaint. He walked into the store and asked for an Android charger. The employee pointed Gavin to the chargers, and Gavin handed the employee $23. While the employee was on the phone, Gavin held a gun near his chest and said, “Give me the money or I’ll shoot you.”

The employee said, “What?” and Gavin walked around the counter, took about $635 from the register and said, “Don’t call the cops yet,” according to the complaint.

About two minutes later, law enforcement saw Gavin, with cash protruding from his pocket, jog out of the store and get into Fabela’s vehicle, according to the complaint. Officers blocked the vehicle and arrested both men.

An Airsoft gun, $725.75 in cash, a surgical mask and a Metro PCS phone charger were recovered from Gavin, according to the complaint.

Gavin admitted to the FBI that he robbed the Metro PCS store with his friend Fabela, according to the complaint. He said he knew Fabela from the neighborhood and went to school with his brother. He called Fabela earlier in the day and asked if he was up for “hitting a lick,” or committing a robbery. He also admitted to committing other robberies with Fabela, including the Elmhurst robbery.

However, Fabela said he was in Elmhurst on April 25, but denied involvement in the robbery, according to the complaint. He claimed to be an Uber driver and requested an attorney.

Gavin and Fabela were ordered detained at their initial appearance in federal court on Monday, according to FBI spokesman Garrett Croon.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force along with the Chicago, Homewood, Elmhurst, Berwyn and Skokie police departments.