Courts
Jonathan Miano, The Times

HAMMOND — They barged into an East Chicago bar to rummage patrons’ pockets at gunpoint, preyed on cash-rich victims at a local casino and even left one elderly woman with a broken nose before fleeing in her car to commit another robbery.

Those are among the allegations levied against Lamonte Crittenden, 18, of Hammond; Janice D. Bates, 26, of Chicago; and Demetrius A. Harris, 24, of Chicago, outlined in a probable cause affidavit filed Tuesday in Lake Criminal Court.

Crittenden and Harris each face 17 counts of armed robbery, one count of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury, attempted robbery resulting in bodily injury and two counts of robbery resulting in bodily injury, records show.

Bates — allegedly the getaway driver in the robbery spree — faces 13 counts of armed robbery and one count each of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and attempted robbery resulting in bodily injury.

A six-page affidavit details how Crittenden and Harris allegedly carried out violent robberies across Hammond and East Chicago in Northwest Indiana and in Lansing, Chicago and Blue Island in Illinois from Sept. 3 through Oct. 2 to fuel their gambling habits.

‘Nobody move’

Crittenden and Harris allegedly barged into the 2nd String Quarterback, 719 W. 151st St., in East Chicago, on Oct. 2 — one waving a gun and yelling at people to “Empty yo pockets!” while the other man patted everyone down.

The two fled the bar with iPhones, keys, wallets, credit cards and cash from the register, the affidavit shows.

Three days earlier, Crittenden and Harris walked into Michigan Bar and Grill in Hammond, grabbed an employee by the neck, escorted her behind the bar and forced her to open the register.

“Nobody move. I’m going to shoot somebody today,” one of the men allegedly said before taking another man’s iPhone 7, wallet, his car keys, two pocket knives and a silver necklace, the affidavit stated.

Crittenden and Harris are also charged with robbing the Flat Rock Tap on Sept. 26. While one of the men showed a black handgun and ordered a patron to the ground, the other jumped the counter and emptied the register, records show.

One of the patrons who was robbed noticed his Chevy HHR missing from the parking lot, the affidavit stated.

Robberies turn violent

One 70-year-old victim told police he had just arrived at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond on Sept. 13 when he was approached by two men, later identified as Crittenden and Harris.

The two pulled up behind him in a Dodge White Charger, “jostled him around,” and pointed a gun at him before allegedly stealing his reading glasses, car keys and wallet.

Crittenden and Harris tackled a fleeing robbery victim to the ground at about 7:15 a.m. Sept. 24 at the Speedway gas station, 3956 Guthrie St., in East Chicago, the affidavit stated.

When the 68-year-old woman fought back, she “was beat, stomped on, spit on, and cursed at,” court records show. One of the men bit her fingers to steal her car keys and take off in her teal 2009 Chevy Malibu.

The Malibu was allegedly used in a robbery later that night at the Save Gas gas station at 10953 Indianapolis Blvd.

City's license plate reader aids investigation

In the first in a series of robberies, a married couple was robbed by Crittenden and Harris at the BP gas station at 10850 Indianapolis Blvd. They fled in a boxy, white four-door SUV with two sunroofs and luggage rack rails — later identified as a white 1999 Ford Explorer registered in Bates’ name.

Shortly after the 2nd String Quarterback robbery, the city of Hammond’s new license plate reader technology captured Bates traveling from Hammond to Illinois. Then, the same car was detected traveling back into Hammond shortly before a Burger King was robbed on Sept. 28.

Undercover Hammond officers followed Bates’ 1999 Ford Explorer from her residence in Chicago to Hammond, watching as she and a male passenger made several stops at businesses, the affidavit stated.

Officers initiated a traffic stop and identified Bates’ passenger as Harris. Three hours after the stop, an armed robbery occurred in Blue Island, Illinois, and Harris was arrested.

Harris admitted to his involvement in many of the crimes, records show. 

A Facebook photo shows Crittenden in a fisherman's style hat that matched the hat worn by a suspect in many of the robberies, police said. 

Crittenden also allegedly appeared on surveillance video at the Sleep Inn Hotel in Lansing shortly before Harris joined him as they re-entered the business and robbed people of their personal belongings, the affidavit stated. 

A warrant was issued Tuesday for their arrests.

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Public safety reporter

Lauren covers breaking news, crime and courts for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet covering government, public policy, and the region’s heroin epidemic. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.