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Attacks on Amish tied to need for cash, drugs

M. Rodriguez

They needed money for a move to the city and drugs.

So they donned gas masks, carried baseball bats and cruised through the rural roads of Berne in a faded-green Chevy Malibu looking to target horse-drawn buggies.

On Monday, they hit up four of them.

Now, three teens and a 42-year-old woman are facing felony charges connected to attacks and robberies against several members of the Amish community.

Newly released Adams Circuit Court documents detail a plan hatched at a woman’s Berne home to make quick money for a move to Fort Wayne and to score cocaine.

That woman, Michelle Rodriguez, was packing for the move Monday when she told her son and two others that she did not have enough money to get to Fort Wayne or to buy cocaine, according to the court documents.

Rodriguez, who has been charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, told her son and the others to go rob the Amish for the money, court documents said.

Rodriguez’s son, 16-year-old Brady Rodriguez, along with two men from Fort Wayne, David Veliz, 19, and Alejandro Lopez, 18, then went out in the green Malibu, according to court documents.

In the span of about two hours, four sets of witnesses reported having interactions with the teens. They described the episodes to the Adams County Sheriff’s Department in court documents like this:

•At 2:45 p.m., a green Malibu stopped in front of a man in a buggy leaving his brother’s home on County Road 800 South. Two people got out of the car wearing gas masks and holding baseball bats. The man turned his buggy around and headed safely back to his brother’s home while the two people wielding bats gave chase.

•At 3 p.m., a green Malibu stopped in front of a buggy driven by a woman who had her three children with her on County Road 300 East near Kinsey Brooke farm. The woman’s buggy struck the back of the car and then someone opened the passenger-side door of the car. Nobody got out, and the car drove away.

•At 3:15 p.m., a green Malibu again stopped in front of a buggy with a female driver and female passenger inside. A person wearing a mask wielding a baseball bat got out of the passenger side. The female driver of the buggy pulled the buggy beside the car in an effort to leave, scraping the car along the way. Later, police would find paint matching the buggy on the green Malibu.

•At 4:50 p.m., a female driver of a buggy called police and said a green Malibu blocked her way on County Road 700 South near 200 East. She said two people wearing masks, one carrying a baseball bat, exited the car and demanded money. When she refused, the person with the bat swung and struck her in the leg. She gave the people what money she had, which police later deduced to be a few dollars and some change.

Prosecutors charged Brady Rodriguez as an adult in the case. He’s facing a total of 10 charges, which include conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, attempted armed robbery and criminal confinement.

Veliz and Lopez have also been charged with 10 felony counts connected to the robbery, which include attempted armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery and criminal confinement.

Eventually, some of the teens told detectives that Michelle Rodriguez came up with the idea to rob the Amish. After the robberies, Rodriguez, her son and the two others left for Fort Wayne. They discussed coming back to the Berne area that night to target more members of the Amish community, according to court documents.

All four have been booked into confinement facilities.