Robert J. Hughes, back row, and Robert T. Hendrickson wait to go before a judge in Lewis County Superior Court.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – The two men arrested for allegedly holding up two banks in Chehalis on Saturday got away with, briefly, roughly $2,276.
Robert T. Hendrickson, 23, of Centralia and Robert J. Hughes, 32, of Tenino, were charged today with first-degree robbery, attempted first-degree robbery and attempting to elude a police vehicle.
The pair were taken into custody after wrecking during a police pursuit less than 30 minutes after officers were called to a silent alarm at Twin Star Credit Union on South Market Boulevard and then 10 minutes later to Chase Bank a few blocks to the north.
If convicted, they face a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Defense attorney Bob Schroeter said Hendrickson has no current income or assets and Hughes is pending $300 a month from on-the-job injury payments. Both qualified for court appointed attorneys.
Parents of both men were in Lewis County Superior Court today when the defendants appeared before Judge Richard Brosey.
Charging documents and police allege the following account:
Employees at Twin Star observed a man later identified as Hendrickson standing in the customer service area.
When he was asked if he needed assistance, Hendrickson put his hands in his pockets, leaned forward and told the credit union employee to give him all the cash in the drawer.
The employee said there was no money in her drawer, but said they could get some out of the ATM. He left.
Chehalis police have said that branch has no cash drawers like regular banks.
Hendrickson got into to the passenger side of a black Acura.
Employees at Chase told police an individual later identified as Hendrickson came in and asked to use the restroom and left soon after. He returned a few minutes later and approached a teller with his hands in his pockets.
“Give me all the money in the drawer and there won’t be any problems,” he allegedly said.
The teller removed all the cash from the drawer and set it on the counter. Hendrickson put it in his front pocket and walked out the front door.
The silent alarm from Twin Star on the 1500 block of South Market Boulevard came at 10:07 a.m.
As police officers converged, already with descriptions of the suspect and the car, Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Ken Cheeseman saw a male run from Chase Bank and get into a black Acura.
He followed but lost sight of the car but it wasn’t long before an officer spotted a black Acura at the Interstate 5 exit at Mellen Street in Centralia.
Centralia Officer Ruben Ramirez followed the car which began heading west on Cooks Hill Road watching a woman walking her dog yank her pet from the road and go into a ditch to avoid getting hit, as well as observing the Acura swerve into oncoming traffic narrowly missing two oncoming vehicles.
Ramirez activated his lights and siren and hit speeds of 100 mph.
The car passed Swanson Drive and as it entered a curve, skidded off the road into a ditch.
An individual later identified as Hendrickson exited the passenger side and ran, but Ramirez’s partner, police dog Lobo, took him to the ground.
When Hendrickson was searched, a large wad of money was found, some of which was confirmed to be from a robbery the day before in Thurston County. Chehalis police have said the pair might be tied to a bank robbery in Olympia.
Other money was seen in the console area of the car.
A Chehalis detective reviewing surveillance videos from both financial institutions identified the individual shown as Hendrickson.
His bail was set at $150,000. He has no felony criminal history, according to Schroeter.
Hughes, because he has some felonies and other crimes in his background, including a recent bail jumping charge in Thurston County, found his bail set at $250,000.
Their arraignments are set for Thursday afternoon.
For background, read “Breaking news: Holdups at two Chehalis banks, two in custody” from Saturday March 17, 2012 at 12:35 p.m., here