FBI on hunt for suspects in brazen bank robbery in East Chicago

2014-04-03T20:15:00Z 2014-04-04T15:08:15Z FBI on hunt for suspects in brazen bank robbery in East ChicagoElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com

EAST CHICAGO | The FBI identified two East Chicago residents accused of taking part in a brazen armed bank robbery and shooting at officers.

Police are searching for Jeremiah P. Ellis, 28, and Ashley L. Patterson, 24, who could be in the Chicago area with their two children, according to a news release from the FBI. The couple live in the 4800 block of Homerlee Avenue in East Chicago, less than half a mile from the bank they are accused of robbing.

Investigators tied the couple to the armed robbery after several people came forward to identify the couple from surveillance photos released earlier this week, according to a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Hammond. 

Ellis and Patterson are accused of walking into the First Merchants Bank at 11 a.m. Saturday at 4740 Indianapolis Blvd. in East Chicago and taking over the business, police said. 

According to the complaint, Ellis pointed a gun at the security guard's face and forced him to get on the floor while Patterson held the 20 bank customers at gunpoint. 

Ellis jumped the teller counter and demanded workers hand over all $9,966.81 from the teller drawers, the complaint stated.

The couple fled on foot, but a customer followed the couple and saw them get into a Chevrolet Tahoe a few blocks away. Ellis got out of the Tahoe and fired at least six rounds at East Chicago officers pursuing the vehicle, according to the complaint. 

Ellis fired again at officers as the chase continued into Hammond, police said. The Tahoe was last seen in the area of 149th Street and Walnut Avenue in Hammond. 

An unidentified witness told investigators that the pair went to Ellis' mother's house after the robbery and said the FBI was trying to kill him, according to the complaint. The witness said the couple looked upset and said they needed a new car because Patterson's father had taken back the Chevrolet Tahoe.

Another witness told police Ellis' mother gave the couple money to buy another car after the bank robbery, according the complaint. A different witness said Ellis pointed the same gun used in the bank robbery during a previous confrontation, police said.

Patterson owned two handguns that matched the descriptions of the guns used in the robbery and matched the make and caliber of shell casings collected from the shooting scene, according to the complaint. The FBI said Ellis' cellphone records indicate he was in the area of the bank before the robbery. The phone was later located in Chicago.

Ellis is a black man who is 6 feet and 1 inch tall, weighs 154 pounds and has brown hair and eyes, police said. He has a tattoo on the right side of his neck. Patterson is a black woman who is 5 feet and 10 inches tall, weighs 160 pounds, has black hair and brown eyes.

Anyone with information about the pair is asked to call the FBI at (312) 421-6700.

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