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DNA on gun brings bank-heist arrest

Three months after a group of men robbed the PNC bank branch on Coventry Lane, one man is in custody and facing federal charges.

Early Thursday, law enforcement officers arrested Christopher Seals, 22, at an apartment in the 2200 block of Bowser Avenue.

On May 3, federal prosecutors charged Seals with four counts related to the robbery of the PNC bank on Feb. 14, as well as what appears to be an interrupted robbery of a Three Rivers Federal Credit Union on March 13.

According to federal court documents, three men entered the PNC bank just after 9 a.m., all armed with handguns. They detained bank employees and took money from a cash drawer as well as the vault.

But one of the men left a gun behind in the bank, dropping a .38-caliber revolver on the floor at the teller station closest to the vault. Fort Wayne police collected DNA from the gun, finding it on unspent cartridges inside the gun, according to court documents.

The DNA was traced to Seals, who was released on parole in November 2011 after an Allen Superior Court conviction in 2009 for attempted robbery and possession of a handgun without a license.

Later, another person told investigators he saw Seals at a party with a backpack full of $20,000. One of the men said they got the money from a recent bank robbery, according to court documents.

Seals’ DNA was also on a mask found near a Three Rivers Federal Credit Union branch on Bluffton Road in mid-March. In that case, a witness saw a man in a nearby woods, told bank employees and then approached the woods on foot.

As the witness neared the woods, he or she saw three men, all in masks and wearing dark-colored hooded sweatshirts. As the witness approached, the men fled, leaving behind masks in the snow, according to court documents.

The bank manager also saw the men, lying on their stomachs and inching closer to the bank.

During an interview with the FBI, Seals denied any involvement in the bank robbery but said he recognized the gun.

The investigation into the robberies was conducted by the FBI Fort Wayne Safe Streets Task Force and the FBI Northeast Indiana Federal Bank Robbery Task Force. Both task forces are made up of FBI agents and officers from the Indiana State Police, Allen County Police Department and Fort Wayne Police Department. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives also participates in the Northeast Indiana Federal Bank Robbery Task Force, according to a release from the FBI.

rgreen@jg.net

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