HAMMOND | A Griffith man faces a federal bank robbery charge after robbing a Chase Bank earlier this week using a toy gun painted to look authentic, a federal criminal complaint alleges.
Desman Thomas, 38, of Griffith, also was charged in Lake Criminal Court Friday with three counts of armed robbery and one count of attempted robbery for various Griffith and Merrillville gas station robberies between December and April, according to Griffith police.
Thomas walked into the Chase Bank, 1203 E. Ridge Road, Griffith, Wednesday morning, pointed what appeared to be a black firearm at a customer and said, "Give me all the money, or I'll kill him," a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Hammond, states.
Thomas then robbed the customer and also stole $2,000 from the bank before fleeing the scene and driving away in a silver Nissan Altima, the complaint alleges.
Later Wednesday morning, police spotted the Altima parked at the Mansards Apartments, 919 E. 35th Ave., Griffith. Police encountered Thomas at the complex and searched the car and Thomas' apartment, according to the complaint.
Police found clothing matching witness descriptions of the bank robbery suspect and a zipped up bag of more than $2,000 cash in an oven broiler in the apartment, the complaint states.
Law enforcement officers said they also found an "air-soft type gun" in the apartment. An orange tip on the toy gun had been painted black, according to the complaint.
Thomas made an initial appearance in Hammond federal court Thursday on the Chase Bank robbery charge. A detention hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.
Griffith police said Thomas also was charged by Lake County prosecutors Friday for Griffith gas station bank robberies that occurred Dec. 22, March 13, March 26 and April 24.
Thomas is accused of using either what appeared to be a pistol or a knife to rob gas stations at 1224 E. Ridge Road and 6150 W. Ridge Road in Griffith and 7113 Taft St. in Merrillville.