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Feds kept close watch on 5 tied to bank heist

– Federal agents watched the crew for weeks as they cased the bank in Fishers and later drove home to Fort Wayne, booked hotel rooms in Indianapolis and headed to the bank Wednesday morning.

Court documents reveal the federal agents knew of their existence since at least February, when members of the group went to Kokomo, allegedly to look for another bank to rob.

So when the Fort Wayne residents allegedly tried to rob the Community Bank branch Wednesday morning, FBI agents and police officers picked up all five rather quickly.

Court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis identify two of the five as the ones who went into the bank in Fishers, armed with semiautomatic handguns. The other three are accused of aiding in the robbery.

The five – Deandre Armour, 37; Xavier Hardy, 26; Duryea Rogers, 26; Tahitia Burnett, 40; and Olivia Haiflich, 20 – are all from Fort Wayne.

Armour, Hardy, and Rogers all have prior felony convictions in Allen County.

Hardy was released from the Indiana Department of Correction in 2011, having served time for burglary.

Along with a robbery conviction in Allen County, Armour has a robbery conviction in Whitley County as well as charges from Kosciusko County.

In June, the FBI received information that Rogers and Armour were “planning on doing as many bank robberies as possible in June,” according to court documents.

“(T)he two men were planning on hitting as many banks around Indianapolis and Fort Wayne, in small towns, because they think they are easier to rob,” court documents read.

Rogers was currently out on bond for a February theft and residential entry case pending in Allen Superior Court, and also has served time in prison for an Allen County robbery.

In 2007, Burnett was indicted by a federal grand jury in Fort Wayne on a charge of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. She pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of possession of crack cocaine and was sentenced to six months in federal prison.

On Wednesday, after federal agents and Fishers police officers chased down Hardy and nabbed Rogers from a stack of boxes in a closet at a nearby hotel, Bob Jones, special agent in charge of the Indianapolis Division of the FBI, said the bank robbers were professional – a “serial bank robbery crew.”

While no one has linked the crew to any robberies in Fort Wayne, the federal criminal complaint filed Thursday references a vehicle belonging to one of the accused robbers as fitting the description of an SUV seen at the scene of an October robbery of a Fort Wayne credit union.

The details of the October robbery – in which two men armed with handguns, with their faces concealed and their hands covered by blue gloves – are similar to the Fishers bank robbery, and others in and around Fort Wayne over the past year.

The gunmen approach the bank or credit union as employees arrive to open it and force their way inside where they demand cash.

In Fishers, federal agents believe it was Hardy and Rogers who went into the bank, ambushing an employee near a trash bin as she walked to the back door, according to court documents.

They ordered her to open the vault, but it didn’t open, and they fled without any money after zip-tying the employee’s hands and feet and leaving her on the break-room floor, according to court documents.

After taking her car keys and an ATM card, they drove off in her car. As they drove away, two vehicles – one with Burnett driving and Armour in the passenger seat, and the other driven by Haiflich – began following the robbers, officials said.

When agents and police officers moved in, the robbers ditched the car and fled on foot, and the other three were arrested.

Federal prosecutors have asked all five remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending an indictment, court records said.

No charges have been filed in Allen County or the U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne against any of the five in connection with a holdup at a northeast Indiana bank.