BRENTWOOD • A camouflaged wildlife camera set up to take photos of critters scavenging through garbage cans instead captured images of suspects hiding from police after a nearby home invasion and robbery.
Brentwood Police Chief Steve Disbennett said today that officers arrested three men about 8 a.m. Sunday after they and a fourth man forced their way into a home in the 9400 block of Parkside Drive to rob two men who live there.
Two of the suspects were captured after the crime on a hidden camera designed to capture images of wildlife. Jacob Schuh, 30, had set up his battery-powered "Primos Truth Cam 46" last weekend in hopes of finding out what animal had been getting into his garbage cans. He said he was surprised when he looked at his photos Sunday and saw the robbery suspects.
"I almost didn't believe it," Schuh said. "It was like, what the hell is this?"
The three that police caught — Trevon Devontae Adams, Ronald Ledell Forture and Justin James Rush — were each charged today with one count of burglary, two counts of robbery and three counts of armed criminal action. Police say they took about $700 in cash, a credit card, a cellphone and a laptop. Rush was armed during the robbery, authorities said.
Adams, 20, of the 3800 block of Ashland Avenue, and Forture, 21, of the 1400 block of Burd Avenue, both in St. Louis, were each held in lieu of $75,000 bail. Rush, 23, of the first block of Plaza Square in St. Louis, was held in lieu of $100,000 bail.
Police said they are seeking a fourth man, identified by authorities as Ocie Lee Bates III, 23.
The four suspects apparently had met two of the victims who live at the home the previous evening at the Lumière Place casino in downtown St. Louis, Disbennett said. Police believe the robbers followed the victims home to Brentwood after the victims had won several hundred dollars at one of the casino's craps tables.
Disbennett said police responded to the block after a witness — radio host McGraw Milhaven — spotted the four men acting suspciciously. They walked down the block and approached the house after leaving their car a few houses down the block with the engine running. Once they got to the house, some went in and others stayed outside, appearing to be lookouts, according to Milhaven, a KTRS-AM morning radio host who had been visiting a friend on the block Sunday morning.
After robbing the men at gunpoint at the home, the robbers left and hid after seeing police cars pull up, Disbennett said. Police arrested three of the four near the house.
"I saw the whole thing from start to finish," Milhaven said in an email. "The four guys walking down the street, past my friend's house, and then run up to the house they were going to rob. Then them hiding in the bushes, running out, and the police chase. I had a front-row seat."
Police were still looking for a handgun that they believe one of the robbers dropped as he fled.
Schuh said he gave the police copies of his photos after discovering the camera had caught two of the suspects.
The next night, he says, his wildlife camera captured images of the suspect he'd intended to nab: an opossum digging in his trash.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect spelling of McGraw Milhaven. The story has been corrected.