Home Chicago Press Releases 2010 Three Arrested Following Armed Robbery of Palos Heights Bank

Three Arrested Following Armed Robbery of Palos Heights Bank

FBI Chicago February 11, 2010
  • Special Agent Joan Hyde (312) 829-1199

Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), was joined today by Larry Yott, Chief of the Palos Heights, Illinois Police Department (PHPD) in announcing the arrest of three men for the armed take-over robbery yesterday evening of the TCF Bank branch, located at 6410 West 127th Street in the southwest suburb.

WALI A. ALI, age 64, of 4423 South Prairie Avenue in Chicago; MELVIN RATLIFF, age 56, of 1201 East 171st Street in South Holland, Illinois and JAMES L. WALKER, age 51, of 513 East 152nd Street in Phoenix, Illinois, were arrested yesterday evening by PHPD Officers, assisted by officers from several surrounding communities, following a brief vehicle pursuit through the suburb. All three men were charged earlier today in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago with one count each of Aggravated Bank Robbery, which is a felony offense.

According to the complaint, the three men entered the TCF branch around 5:00 p.m., brandishing weapons and announcing a robbery. One of the robbers was armed with a shotgun while the other two had handguns. All three men were wearing ski masks to conceal their identity. One robber confronted a bank employee, placing his weapon in her back and ordering her to take him to the vault. He then demanded that she open the vault, threatening her and a second employee with harm, if his orders were not followed. He then gave one of the bank employees a black plastic garbage bag, which he ordered that they fill with cash from the vault. The other two robbers remained in the lobby, standing guard over bank customers and employees, who they ordered to lie down on the floor.

After obtaining in excess of $100,000, all three robbers fled the bank on foot. No shots were fired and no injuries were reported.

An alert witness, who was outside the bank at the time, saw that a robbery was taking place and called local police. The witness continued to watch as the robbers entered a grey colored pick-up truck that was parked nearby and fled the area. The witness followed the truck as it left the bank and was able to provide a description of the vehicle and robbers to the police.

Responding PHPD Officers located the vehicle and after a brief chase, stopped the truck and arrested the occupants, without incident. Evidence linking the three men to the robbery was recovered from the truck, including several weapons.

Subsequent investigation by the FBI and PHPD developed additional evidence, linking the three to the robbery and resulting in the charges that were filed today.

In announcing these arrests, Mr. Grant noted the invaluable assistance provided by a member of the public in both reporting the robbery and apprehending the robbers. Said Mr. Grant, “Public cooperation is a cornerstone of effective law enforcement. The witness who reported this robbery and provided the information which led to the arrests should be commended for their efforts.”

Chief Yott added “The arrests announced today are a great example of interagency cooperation and some excellent police work, which resulted in the apprehension of three potentially violent offenders.”

ALI, RATLIFF and WALKER appeared this morning in U.S. District Court in Chicago before Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Cole, at which time they were formally charged.  All three men were ordered held without bond, pending their next scheduled court appearance. Until then, they will be housed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Chicago. If convicted of the charges filed against them, all three men face a possible sentence of up to twenty-five (25) years in prison.

Additional information about this and other unsolved Chicago area bank robberies, including downloadable photographs, is available at the Bandit Tracker website, www.bandittrackerchicago.com.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Copies of the criminal complaint filed in this case are available from the Chicago FBI’s press office at (312) 829-1199.