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Six more charged in series of Houston bank robberies

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's a major roundup in an elaborate robbery ring targeting banks across the Houston area. More than a dozen men have been charged in nine bank robberies and suspected in at least 20, including a Pearland hostage situation on New Year's Eve.

The FBI calls this development significant. A federal judge just unsealed additional indictments naming six more people accused in a far-reaching ring of bank robberies across the Houston area.

The 16-count superseding indictment charges six more Houston-area residents with alleged involvement in a series of bank robberies, including the New Year's Eve heist of a Chase Bank in Pearland, where robbers not only took hostages, but beat the manager, holding authorities at bay for hours.

Eyewitness News obtained pictures of some of the 13 defendants the U.S. Attorney's Office says are now are charged in what's turned out to be a significant bank robbery ring across the Houston area, dating back to at least August of last year. The FBI says there are 22 bank robberies in all.

"It's kinda scary to go anywhere because you don't know what's gonna happen," bank customer Nadine Kirby said.

According to the indictment, the suspects "cased" banks, choosing most vulnerable targets -- those without security guards or bullet-resistant barriers.

Raymond Tierra Johnson and Samuel Glen Bonner are charged specifically with hostage taking for their alleged roles in the robbery at the Pearland bank.

Chase customer Nadine Kirby calls it a sign of the times, the economic times.

"They need to be locked up. I think all criminals should be locked up and not get parole," Kirby said.

Others who keep their money at this bank say they shouldn't have to worry about where they keep their hard-earned cash.

Chantell Watson says seeing the frequency of bank robberies makes her want to do all her banking online.

"Why don't they go out and get a job? You know, that's what everybody else does!" Watson said.

We talked today to a couple of those who were held hostage on New Year's Day. While pleased by the arrests, they are still coping with what they endured and chose not to speak on camera.

The suspects accused of taking hostages here could face up to life in federal prison if convicted. Each bank robbery count carries a maximum 25-year term if found guilty.

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