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Vondell Henry Jr.

HAMMOND — Federal prosecutors are recommending nearly a decade in prison for a Gary man accused of violently robbing a Munster cellphone store in August 2017, according to U.S. District court documents filed this week.

Vondell Henry Jr., 20, is among five accused in the Aug. 1, 2017 robbery, which ultimately led to a police chase in a residential Gary neighborhood where a 15-year-old suspect named Kemonte Cobbs was shot and killed by police.

Henry pleaded guilty on March 7 to one count each of the Hobbs Act robbery and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Henry's co-defendant, Deshalone Damien Davis, was sentenced earlier this year to 135 months in prison for his role. An unnamed minor was also charged in the case. 

Prosecutors have said Henry and others all took part in the robbery of the Cellular Connection, an authorized Verizon retailer at Ridge and Calumet in Munster, at 5:45 p.m. Aug. 1. A number of customers, including children, were in the store at the time, court documents state. 

"At first one, then two, of the robbers went into a back room and forced an employee to empty phones out of a cabinet and put them into a bag for the robbers. An employee was also forced at gunpoint to empty the cash register," the government's sentencing memorandum states. 

Surveillance footage from the store shows Davis and another suspect had guns and pointed those weapons at employees and customers inside, the memo states.

The robbers fled the store afterward and got away in the getaway car driven Henry, court documents state. 

Later, after the police chase, Henry surrendered, but four others fled on foot. Davis was apprehended shortly after, the memo states. 

Tasheena Brooks, mother of Cobbs, is still battling in court with municipal attorneys over access to information about the death of her son, Cobbs. Cobbs was allegedly armed with a handgun. 

In recent months, Brooks has appealed to the Gary City Council for information about her son's death. She has also partnered with Black Lives Matter in Gary to protest her son's death and call on law enforcement to release all video and audio recordings of the shooting. 

They took $371 from the register and 25 cellphones worth $16,640, court records state. The total loss was $17,011.05, though some items were recovered and not factored into owed restitution. 

The government is recommending a 117-month prison sentence and that Henry pay $3,449.99 in restitution, alongside co-defendant Davis and a juvenile also charged in the case. 

Henry's sentencing for 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 before Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen. 

In recent months, Brooks has appealed to the Gary City Council for information about her son's death. She has also partnered with Black Lives Matter in Gary to protest her son's death and call on law enforcement to release all video and audio recordings of the shooting. 

They took $371 from the register and 25 cellphones worth $16,640, court records state. The total loss was $17,011.05, though some items were recovered and not factored into owed restitution. 

The government is recommending a 117-month prison sentence and that Henry pay $3,449.99 in restitution, alongside co-defendant Davis and a juvenile also charged in the case. 

Henry's sentencing for 11 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 before Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen. 

Recent arrests booked into Lake County Jail

 

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