Crime

June 28, 2014

Belleville standoff ends with capture of robbery suspect

Members of a police SWAT team captured 21-year-old robbery suspect Darius Thompson in an apartment on Pheasantwood Court in Belleville after a standoff of more than eight hours on Saturday.

Police were looking Thompson after a lone gunman entered the TitleMax office at 10226 Lincoln Trail in Fairview Heights, demanded cash and then fled with an undisclosed amount of cash about 3:30 p.m. Friday.

"He was taken into custody without injury," said Fairview Heights Police patrol officer Tim Mueller after Thompson was taken out a rear door of one of the apartment buildings and whisked out of the area.

Thompson was captured in the Pheasantwood Court Apartments about 2 p.m. Saturday.

Thompson was being held at the Fairview Heights Police Department pending further investigation, Mueller said.

While Thompson's mother, girlfriend and grandfather were on the scene, he did not try to communicate with SWAT members from the Belleville/St. Clair County Special Response Team who were in and behind an armored vehicle parked about 20 feet from the apartment. The officers used a battering ram attached to the front of the armored vehicle to force open the door to the ground floor apartment.

The entire scene was watched by numerous residents who were cordoned off about 250 yards away.

Mueller said that Thompson was not armed when apprehended.

Multiple police departments including Belleville and Fairview Heights converged in the early morning hours on the apartment where they began about 5:30 a.m. to urge Thompson to come out and surrender. Communication was through a large speaker mounted on the armored SWAT vehicle.

According to a written statement from the Fairview Heights police, the Belleville Police were able to provide a location for Thompson.

Earl Thompson, the grandfather of Darius Thompson, said he asked police if a family member could go near the apartment building where his grandson could see the family member.

"He sees family members versus all that firepower, he might come out but the police said no," Earl Thompson said.

Joi Loving, the mother of Darius Thompson, was in the St. Clair County command post van as was a young woman said to be his girlfriend.

The suspect's 17-year-old sister had been in the apartment but was allowed to leave.

In response to a question about concern by the suspect's mother that the police presence was too large and intimidating, Mueller said, "For a mother it would be very traumatic. She should be thankful that her son was not injured."

Contact reporter George Pawlaczyk at gpawlaczyk@bnd.com or 618-239-2625.

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