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CROWN POINT — A 16-year-old boy is charged as an adult with participating in the armed robbery Wednesday of a Whiting restaurant.

Jaden D. Melton was charged Friday in Lake Criminal Court with armed robbery, a level 3 felony. He entered a not guilty plea to the charge Monday and requested a public defender at his initial hearing, records state. He was in custody on a $40,000 surety bond.

Whiting police were dispatched about 5:45 p.m. for the armed robbery of Lapalma Restaurant, 2040 Indianapolis Blvd.

An employee told authorities two young males entered the restaurant armed with pistols and wearing bandannas on their faces. She said one of the robbers fired a gun into the ceiling and ordered her to put cash into a black-and-green backpack. The woman complied and the robbers fled with about $150.

A Hammond police officer reported two suspects matching the robbers' descriptions were running on a bike path near the former Federated Metals, records state.

Melton was found by officers hiding in the backyard of a residence in the 1300 block of 121st Street. He had $90 in cash in his pants pockets and was wearing a single black glove, records state. More clothing items were found after police searched the area.

A 15-year-old boy was arrested in the 2000 block of 121st Street. Police found $67 in his coat pocket and a red bandanna was found nearby, records state.

A .22 caliber pistol and a .38 caliber revolver were found on the bike trail near Federated Metals, records state.

Both boys were taken to Whiting Police Department. An officer said Melton yelled to his alleged accomplice at the station, “If you can hear me you better not (expletive) rat,” records state.

The 15-year-old boy admitted to robbing the restaurant in a statement to police, records state. He said he fired the .22 caliber handgun into the ceiling to make the cashier move faster.

He said Melton “insisted” on joining him during the robbery, records state.

Whiting police did not respond to an email Monday asking whether the 15-year-old boy was charged in the robbery.

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Lake County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.