After a month of searching and one failed capture attempt, police tracked down three suspects accused in a rash of armed robberies, assaults and home invasions committed during June and July, according to court testimony.
Nicholas Thomas, 19, Terrence Sanders, 21 and Troy Hughes, 19, faced seven counts of armed robbery and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime during a Friday morning Recorder's Court hearing.
Thomas faced 19 additional charges; Sanders faced 18. Those charges included armed robbery, criminal attempt to commit armed robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, aggravated assault, entering auto, hijacking a motor vehicle, felony obstruction of law enforcement and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Sanders and Thomas' crime spree began with a string of seven armed robberies committed within five hours, Sgt. Lance Deaton told the court. Two of the robberies committed during the spree were not described during Friday's hearing.
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On June 10, five suspects pulled into the Edgewood Motel parking lot, located at 4265 Macon Road, Deaton said. Brandishing firearms, the group approached at least four victims and demanded phones, money and other valuables around 1:30 a.m.
Deaton said the five suspects robbed an additional four victims at a nearby apartment complex before driving to the Burger King at 3101 Gentian Boulevard, where they assaulted and robbed a maintenance technician in the parking lot around 2:10 a.m.
At an unspecified location on Macon Road west of Sears Road, Deaton said the group stopped again and assaulted a man walking along the side of the road. That victim received a laceration during the robbery.
Not long after, Sgt. Daniel Lyon said the suspects shot a cab driver multiple times in a vacant lot at 701 Brown Avenue after using a credit card stolen from the maintenance technician at Burger King. Lyon said the victim was unable to get a proper look at the suspect that fired at him. He was injured in an unspecified location.
The cab driver was treated at Midtown Medical Center and finally released, police said. Sanders and Thomas have been charged in that shooting.
It would be almost a month before police would catch sight of one of the suspects, Deaton said. On July 9, officers caught sight of Sanders near the 900 block of 29th Avenue. Sanders eluded police for some distance, eventually escaping. During that capture attempt, an officer's finger was broken, Deaton said.
Two days prior, Thomas is accused of hijacking a woman's gold Ford Crown Victoria from a Big Cat gas station on North Lumpkin Road, according to court testimony.
A day later, Thomas, Hughes and two other suspects broke into a 3200 block Maricopa Drive residence using the garage door. The group is accused of holding several people aged between 16 and 22 years old at gunpoint. Two of the victims, a 17-year-old girl and a 16-year-old girl, told officers they were sexually battered during the incident.
That same night, three suspects used the stolen Crown Victoria to invade another residence on the 3600 block of Claymore Road. Victims told police the suspects took $700, jewelry, phones and a green 1998 Ford F150, which was later found stuck in a ditch near the scene. The group attempted to get away in the Crown Victoria, but wrecked the vehicle and were forced to flee on foot, Deaton said.
During the Claymore Road home invasion, a victim reported that one of the suspect spoke Hughes' name.
Judge Michael Cielinski set no bond on the Thomas, Sanders and Hughes' armed robbery and aggravated assault charges. No bond was set on Thomas' hijacking of a motor vehicle charge.
A $260,000 bond was set for Thomas' and Sanders' remaining charges. A $25,000 bond was set for Hughes' remaining charges.