Bond set for five charged in armed robbery, carjacking

Bond set for five charged in armed robbery, carjacking

URBANA — Five men are being held at the Champaign County Jail following their arrests over the weekend in connection with an armed robbery and vehicular hijacking.

Charged Monday with armed robbery and aggravated vehicular hijacking were:

— William L. Ayres, 21, who listed an address in the 2500 block of Prairie Green, Urbana.

— Andrew C. Bell, 19, who listed an address in the 1100 block of Northwood Drive, Champaign.

— Robert A. Grady, 19, who listed an address in the 800 block of North Coler Avenue, Urbana.

— Zachary T. Gray, 19, who listed an address in the 1600 block of Hunter Street, Urbana.

— Herbert C. Shah, 21, who listed an address in the 700 block of East Illinois Street, Urbana.

Judge John Kennedy set bond on each man at $250,000. Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said her office filed motions to compel each man provide a DNA sample for investigative purposes.

According to an Urbana police report, officers were called to the 1600 block of Hunter Street, Urbana, at about 3 a.m. Sunday.

When police arrived, they found two Urbana men, ages 29 and 39, who had been beaten and robbed of cash, a cellphone and a 1997 Ford pickup truck.

The report indicated a man approached the two victims, who were sitting in the truck at the time. After they talked, the man left and entered an apartment in the 1600 block of Hunter Street.

About 10 minutes later, the same man, accompanied by others, left the apartment. One of the men broke out the driver's side window of the truck.

When the two victims got out of the truck, they were beaten and robbed, police said.

Some of the robbers fled on foot, but at least one of the men drove off in the pickup truck.

After police found the pickup truck several blocks away within an hour after the incident, they enlisted the help of a police dog from the Champaign County sheriff's office.

The dog tracked a scent from the pickup truck to the apartment on Hunter Street.

After getting a search warrant for the apartment, police went there at about 7:30 a.m. and talked to several people, ultimately arresting the five men about a half-hour later.

During a search of the apartment, cash, the victim's cellphone and two handguns were recovered, according to police.

Bell, Grady, Ayres and Gray are due back in court on Wednesday. Shah is due back in court on Jan. 21.

Rietz said the charges are class X felonies, punishable by six to 30 years in prison, with the armed robbery charge including an additional 15 years based on the use of a firearm.

Police said the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with further information is asked to call the Urbana Police Department at (217) 384-2320. Callers may remain anonymous by phoning Champaign County Crimestoppers at 217-373-TIPS or texting "CCTip" plus the information to CRIMES (274637).

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