5 men used crowbar, chains to steal ATM in Roseville: Charges

The Key Inn in Roseville.  (FOX 9 )

Four men from Texas and another from Minnesota, have been charged, accused of using a crowbar and chains to steal an ATM in Roseville earlier this week. 

Christopher Merchant, 23, of Houston; Larry Gill, 23, of Houston; Leonard Williams, 25, of Houston; Dekorius Durham, 22, of St. Paul; and Kenneth Brown, 23, of Houston, are all charged in connection to the Dec. 12 incident. 

According to the criminal complaints, at 4:02 a.m. on Dec. 12, Roseville police responded to Great Southern Bank to investigate an alarm that was triggered by an ATM. When officers arrived, they saw a pickup truck leaving the bank's driveway and a "large object" lying in the bank's parking lot, which was later determined to be a damaged ATM. Surveillance video from the bank showed several other people involved in the ATM theft. The damage to the ATM at the bank exceeded $1,000 and the machine contained more than $5,000 cash.

After leaving the bank, the driver of the truck, later identified as Brown, turned into 1925 County Road B2, where an officer attempted to pull the truck over, but Brown didn't stop. Brown fled, began weaving, and drove over a median and a large rock. Brown then bailed out of the truck, which continued moving until it crashed into a car and a bus, charges said. All three vehicles were heavily damaged. 

Brown tried to flee on foot but was taken into custody, charges said. Police recovered a hotel keycard from his pocket. Brown told police he wasn't involved in the ATM theft — he'd just gotten into the truck for shelter because he was cold. Brown also said he wanted his missing cell phone, which police found near the crashed truck. On his phone screen were directions to the Key Inn.

During a search of the truck, police noted the ignition was damaged, which is a common trick among vehicle thieves, so they can start the vehicle without a key, charges state. Police also found a large chain with hooks hanging out of a truck bed and a crowbar in the bed of the truck. Police contacted the truck's owner, who said it had been stolen sometime after Dec. 10. 

Police then went to the Key Inn, where the front desk employee said he saw police respond to the bank, and then four men entered the hotel and went to room 102. This was also captured on the hotel's CCTV system. The ID used to rent the room belonged to Brown, charges said. 

The four suspects who entered the hotel were later identified as Durham, Gill, Merchant and Williams, charges said. 

As police were developing an "arrest plan," charges said the door to room 102 opened and the people inside were ordered to exit with their hands up. The people inside the room closed the door and locked it. The Ramsey County SWAT team arrived and ordered the suspects out of the room, but the orders were ignored. Police eventually obtained a search warrant, and forced entry into the hotel room. 

All four suspects were arrested, but they declined to be interviewed, charges said. 

CCTV footage from the bank shows Merchant using a crowbar on the ATM, charges said. He and Williams then attached chains to the machine. At one point, video shows Gill helping lift the ATM, but then it fell over. 

During the theft, CCTV footage showed an SUV driving back and forth on the highway, passing the bank. It was then seen leaving the area toward the Key Inn. Other video footage from nearby showed the SUV driving in front of the bank 21 times, starting at 3:58 a.m. The SUV then arrived at the Key Inn at about 4:10 a.m., video footage shows. The SUV was located in the Key Inn parking lot. Inside the vehicle was clothing that matched what the suspects were wearing in the bank surveillance footage. 

The complaint notes that there have been more than 50 thefts matching what these suspects did since 2021. The investigation revealed at 3:10 a.m. on Dec. 12, the SUV was seen circling a Credit Union in St. Louis Park. Brown can be seen driving it, and Williams is seen in the passenger's seat. Police also located a photo of the F250 backed up to an ATM in St. Louis Park with chains ready to be deployed. The investigation into other ATM thefts is ongoing. 

Here is what each person is charged with:

  • Merchant is charged with felony theft and first-degree damage to property
  • Gill is charged with felony theft and first-degree damage to property
  • Williams is charged with felony theft and first-degree damage to property
  • Durham is charged with felony theft and first-degree damage to property
  • Brown is charged with two counts of felony theft, first-degree damage to property and fleeing a peach officer in a motor vehicle

Merchant, Gill, bill and Williams have a criminal history in Texas, while Durham has a criminal history in Iowa.