Employee helped police find 3 suspects in attempted Medawar robbery

Robbery suspects from left to right: Darnell Kenneth-Maurice Brown, Charles Milton Fortune, Zackary Ian Cender. (January 24, 2015)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Three of the seven suspects in the attempted robbery at Paul Medawar Fine Jewelry will be facing charges in federal court.

Charles Fortune, 22, Zackary Cender, 18, and Darnell Brown, 23, all of East Lansing, have each been charged with robbery of a commercial establishment in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids. They were originally charged in Kent County District Court with first-degree conspiracy to commit retail fraud.

Police believe the four other suspects were able to get away, and are still on the run.Paul Medawar Fine Jewelry robbery 012315

Federal documents outline the attempted smash-and-grab robbery. According to the documents, the robbers left the store in a stolen pickup truck after being shot at by a Medawar employee.

One suspect told police that he and another suspect had been planning the robbery for almost a week.

The suspects were trying to steal 66 Rolex watches valued at approximately $646,275. The store estimates the cost to repair the watches damaged in the attempted robbery to be around $47,450 and another $4,000 to repair the damaged displays.

According to federal documents, about 20 minutes before the robbery surveillance video captured a newer model silver Dodge Durango and a black Chevrolet Impala slowly driving in front of the store.

In the surveillance footage, a black Dodge Ram pickup truck pulls up to the store and four people, three black men and one white man, exit the vehicle and enter the store. The driver stayed inside the pickup truck.

One of the four suspects stayed by the door, the other three, wearing masks, went up to a display case. An employee and customer fled as the three suspects began smash the display cases with hammers.

A short time later, the worker came back with a firearm and all four suspects fled and jumped into the pickup truck. The employee fired one round at the suspects.

A manager of a nearby apartment complex saw the pickup, which had been stolen, traveling at a high-rate of speed through the complex. He remembers seeing at least four people get out of the truck and leave in a black Chevrolet Impala and silver Dodge Durango.

A worker saw the men fleeing the business and get into the black pickup truck. He tried to follow them in his vehicle but lost sight of them.

The employee found the truck but it was empty. Then the employee saw a black Chevrolet Impala nearby with a Tennessee license plate and black man inside with a white male passenger.

The worker thought the vehicle may be involved in the attempted robbery and asked the driver, Charles Fortune, what happened. Fortune replied “they went that way” and pointed, according to the documents. The worker took a photo of the Impala before it drove away.

Law enforcement officers from several agencies stop the suspects' vehicle on I-96. (Photo via ReportIt -- Jan. 23, 2015)
Law enforcement officers from several agencies stop the suspects’ vehicle on I-96. (Photo via ReportIt — Jan. 23, 2015)

Deputies responding to the robbery spotted the Impala on I-94 and arrested the three suspects.

The three suspects confessed once they got to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department headquarters for questioning.

The suspects will be back in federal court for a preliminary and detention hearing set for 2 p.m. on Feb. 11.

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