Mich. home invasion suspects arrested
Five people arrested earlier this month in Texas may face charges in Michigan after a nationwide search for suspects in a series of armed home invasions, including incidents in Wayne and Washtenaw counties.
“None of them have been officially charged in Michigan,” said Derrick Jackson, director of community engagement at the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office. “Hopefully, that will happen very soon.”
The group, arrested Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 in the Houston area, also is suspected in similar break-ins in Texas, New Jersey and Georgia, according to the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives from Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County traveled to Texas to assist in the arrests.
Group members are considered suspects in the Michigan break-ins, according to a joint statement by the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office, Ann Arbor and Canton police departments.
Officials in Michigan and New Jersey said incidents in those states targeted victims of Asian or Indian decent. The robbers forced their way into the homes and restrained the residents.
The Allen Police Department in Texas identified the suspects as Chaka Castro, 39, Rodney Ray Granger, 19, Juan Olaya, 34, Octavius Scott, 22, and Johnisha Williams, 19. They are in custody in Denton and Collin county jails in Texas and have been charged in that state, according to police.
Castro faces charges in Texas of possession of stolen property and is being held on $50,000 bond. Charges remain pending against Johnisha Williams, while the other suspects are held on $300,000 bonds with charges of aggravated robbery.
Scott faces an additional charge of criminal conspiracy and an extra $100,000 bond. During the investigation, Allen police discovered Scott also had an active warrant for similar home invasion charges in Milton, Georgia, in the Atlanta area.
The Middlesex County prosecutor in New Jersey on Monday identified four of the suspects as Houston residents and announced charges in that state stemming from five home invasions in New Jersey from Oct. 20 to Nov. 29.
Castro was charged with five counts of conspiracy to commit robbery after she allegedly chose targets in five New Jersey communities and directed her co-defendants to commit crimes.
Olaya, Scott, and Williams face charges including first-degree robbery and kidnapping; second-degree conspiracy, burglary and aggravated assault; third-degree theft, criminal mischief, hindering their apprehension and making terroristic threats.
The charges carry prison terms ranging from 18 months to 30 years.
Granger has not been charged in New Jersey.
It is unknown when the suspects will be extradited to New Jersey, where bail has been set for each suspect at $1.25 million.
It also was not clear which of the suspects were thought to be involved in the Michigan break-ins.
“Although some of those arrested in Texas are tied to our area incidents, not all of those in Texas will be charged in (Michigan),” Jackson said.
More arrests and charges are anticipated, the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office said.
At least four robberies occurred last month at occupied dwellings in Ann Arbor and Canton, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor townships. In each incident, victims were restrained with duct tape while the suspects stole cash, jewelry and electronics.
Ann Arbor Police Detective Lt. Robert Pfannes said Tuesday police had identified the group as possible suspects and were tracking them when the arrests were made.
The first arrests were made on the same day a sketch was released by Ann Arbor police of a teenage suspect who was believed to be involved in the break-ins. Pfannes said the sketch did not lead to the arrests.
The suspects were described by Ann Arbor police last month as three black males armed with handguns, including a possibly bi-racial teenager with blond or copper-colored hair who spoke English in a “strange way.”
The other two suspects wore gloves, covered their faces and spoke with Caribbean or African accents. They may have driven a white-panel van.
Prior to several of the incidents, the teenage suspect allegedly knocked on the door of the residences while the two other suspects hid nearby. He did not conceal his face.
When victims answered the door, all three suspects charged into the homes.
The victims appear to have been specifically targeted based on their Asian or Indian descent, according to police.
Ann Arbor Police Lt. Renee Bush said last month “at least some” of the break-in victims are recent immigrants.
“They have limited English speaking ability. This group of three men seems to be targeting these people,” she said. “What’s happening is these men are knocking on doors, and then they’re barging in once the door is answered. There is a lot of similarity.”
The other break-ins were reported on Nov. 24 on the 2300 block of Trillium in Ann Arbor Township, on Nov. 25 on the 6800 block of Plainview in Ypsilanti Township, and on Nov. 26 in Canton Township.
In the Canton Township incident, police responded at approximately 7 p.m. to a home on the 45000 block of Lothrop to reports of a home invasion involving three black males, according to police. One of the victims responded to a knock at the door before the three suspects forced their way into the home. At least one of the suspects was armed.
The residents were restrained and robbed. They were able to escape and call 911 after the suspects fled the scene.
About an hour after the Canton Township break-in, armed suspects broke into a home in Ann Arbor on the 1700 block of Arlington at about 8 p.m., according to Bush. The men bound a man, woman and two children.
“We didn’t get called until a little after 9 p.m. when the adult male broke free and called us,” Bush said last month. “This family was incredibly brave during this scary situation.”
Bush said last month that the suspects were 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-10 and wore dark clothing.
No one was hurt in the incidents.
Bush said residents should be cautious when answering their doors.
“I would like to remind people that if they don’t expect someone to come over, or if they don’t know the person on the other side of the door, do not answer it,” Bush said. “Call 911 and we’ll respond and get people identified.”