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Last updated: Thu. Feb. 21, 2013 - 06:03 am EDT

New arrest in apartment holdup spree

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FORT WAYNE — A third man has been charged in connection with a spate of robberies at Fort Wayne apartment complexes last month.

Tiron B. Beard, 21, of the 500 block of Madison Street, is accused of having items that were reported stolen in one of the apartment robberies last month and is charged with a felony count of receiving stolen property.

He was arrested Tuesday and was being held in the Allen County Jail in lieu of $2,500 bail.

Earlier Tuesday, police also arrested Corey L. Harris, 21, on the same charge as Beard after finding several items reported stolen during the robberies in his McKinnie Avenue home.

Detectives also believe text messages on Harris’ phone indicate he knew much about the apartment robberies and, while not directly involved in the holdups, possibly bought and sold the items the robbers took.

Beard’s full role in the apartment robberies is still being investigated, and detectives expect more arrests to follow, city police said.

There were at least 13 reported robberies with similar details at apartment complexes in January.

Usually, one or two men, sometimes armed, would approach tenants entering their buildings and rob them. Investigators believed a getaway driver was also involved.

Late last month, police arrested Devonte M. Hamlet, 20, on charges of being a gunman in at least two robberies, both of which occurred Jan. 10.

In those robberies, Hamlet is accused of working with another man to tie up and rob a family at the Island Club Apartments complex before doing the same thing less than 90 minutes later at Cambridge Square Apartments.

A man at Cambridge Square escaped his bindings and shot at Hamlet, who ended up at Parkview Hospital minutes later with a gunshot wound, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Shortly after Hamlet’s arrival, Beard showed up at the hospital and claimed to be Hamlet’s uncle. While he was not allowed to see Hamlet, Beard waited around the hospital for three hours until Hamlet’s release, court records said.

The two left together with Beard behind the wheel of a vehicle that police promptly pulled over at Hobson Road and East State Boulevard, the affidavit said.

When an officer searched Beard’s car, he confiscated a black backpack similar to one stolen in the Island Club Apartments robbery. At the time, Beard claimed the bag belonged to Hamlet, court records said.

Weeks later, police obtained a search warrant and were able to look inside the bag, which contained, among other items, sweatshirts, sweatpants, a football jersey, paintball supplies and cologne.

All those items matched what the victims of the Island Club Apartments robbery said were taken from them when held up by Hamlet, according to the affidavit.

It’s not clear how police got on the trail of Harris, the other man arrested Tuesday, but they had enough evidence to search a home belonging to him and his brother Jan. 16, court records said.

Inside, police found a laptop computer reported stolen in the robberies that Harris said he bought from a man he only knew as “Mike-D” for $50, court records said.

When questioned by police, Harris said he would find buyers for items that Mike-D would have for sale, but that he knew nothing about where the items came from.

However, police also confiscated cellphones from Harris’ home and retrieved text messages that indicate he knew more about the robberies than he let on, court records said.

Some of the texts have Mike-D offering items reported stolen from the apartments on the same day the robberies occurred, court records said.

Another text sent from Harris to Mike-D hours after Hamlet was shot indicated, according to the affidavit, that Mike-D “would be good as long as D-HAM doesn’t flip and as long as Mike-D and (Harris’ brother) get rid of the car that is full of blood.”

Mike-D, who has not been identified, later sent a text to Harris saying he would be leaving town. Harris responded by offering to hide “all the stolen items for him,” the affidavit said.

In all, police retrieved several thousand pages of information from Harris’ cellphone and several hundred pages of text messages that “show (Harris) knew far more than he would admit,” court records said.

After his arrest, Harris was released on his own recognizance.

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