Police: 'Fast Food Bandits' arrestedPosted: Updated:
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Tempe police confirmed Monday that they have arrested three people in connection with a string of robberies at fast-food restaurants going back to September.
In December, Silent Witness announced a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of the so-called "Fast Food Bandits." At the time, police also released surveillance video and photos from one of the armed robberies.
Tony Antwajue Tucker, 40, was arrested Friday and now faces a long list of charges, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, armed robbery, sexual assault and disorderly conduct. He also was wanted on a felony warrant out of California.
Christopher Kimball, 20, was arrested Thursday. He is charged with four counts each of armed robbery, kidnapping and aggravated assault.
Vincent Nitura, also 20, was arrested Friday and now faces three counts each of armed robbery, kidnapping and aggravated assault.
According to Sgt. Darren Burch of the Phoenix Police Department, the three men have hit at least seven fast-food locations -- two in Phoenix near the Tempe border and the rest in Tempe -- since Sept. 15. The most recent incident was Nov. 7.
- Sept. 15, 2011 – 2000 Block of W. Baseline Rd., Tempe
- Oct. 2, 2011 – 4000 Block of E. Ray Rd., Phoenix
- Oct. 4, 2011 – 800 Block of W. Baseline Rd., Tempe
- Oct. 7, 2011 – 800 Block of W. Broadway Rd., Tempe
- Oct. 10, 2011 – 2400 Block of E. Baseline, Phoenix
- Oct. 17, 2011 – 1400 Block of W. Baseline, Tempe
- Nov. 7, 2011 – 3000 Block of 48th Street, Tempe
Burch, the Silent Witness coordinator, said in each case, one or more of the suspects arrived at the targeted restaurant near opening or closing time. The suspects forced the victims to the back of the businesses, pointing a gun at both employees and customers while demanding cash. Once they had the money, they fled the scene.
In the Nov. 7 incident, police say Tucker, who also goes by Prince Edward Tony Tucker, fired multiple shots in the course of the robbery and then left the scene in a white van.
Police from Phoenix and Tempe have been working together to find the perpetrators, concerned by the increasing violence.
"These were traumatic events," said Commander Mark Perkovich of the Tempe Police Department. "If we look back at that Sept 15 incident all the way forward to the most recent one, their propensity for violence was increasing with each and every robbery that had taken place."
Perkovich went on to explained that Tucker, the man accused of actually firing a weapon, has a "violent felony criminal history," having allegedly participated in criminal activity in both California and Oregon.
Police say Tucker's apparent tendency toward violence made Kimball and Nitura nervous.
"These three individuals are extremely dangerous," Perkovich said. "There's no doubt in my mind -- in my professional opinion -- that any one of these instances could have resulted in a homicide or deadly force encounter with law enforcement."
Evidence linking the trio to the robberies was seized when search warrants were served at various locations. Police also found they van they believe Tucker used in the last robbery.
Tucker, Kimball and Nitura are all being held in County Jail.