Two charged in violent Hopkins grocery store armed robbery

Darius Curtis Elam, 29, of St. Paul and Ryan Michell Elam, 28, of Brooklyn Center were tracked down by police on Thursday.

Hopkins
Darius Curtis Elam and Ryan Michell Elam/Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Three female employees working in a Hopkins, Minn., grocery and tobacco store were assaulted and bound with duct tape during a robbery last month, where the suspects got away with tens of thousands in cash.

One of the women was struck in the head and pistol-whipped during the ordeal before the suspects fled, also taking the victims’ cellphones and other belongings.

Darius Curtis Elam, 29, of St. Paul and Ryan Michell Elam, 28, of Brooklyn Center were tracked down by police on Thursday, two weeks after the robbery, and were taken into custody.

Charging documents filed in Hennepin County District Court state that the two suspects entered the store on the 500 block of Blake Road North after 10 p.m. on Feb. 15 holding pistols and forced one of the women to lock the doors. The pair proceeded to duct tape one of the victim’s hands over her eyes, while forcing another woman to open cash registers after her feet were duct taped together. Darius Elam then duct taped the latter woman’s hands over her eyes.

The third woman was forced to give up a safe code while being threatened. The suspects then tried to get the third woman to open another safe in the back of the store, but she didn’t know the code. Ryan Elam accused the woman of lying, and Darius struck the woman. The suspects then duct taped her hands over her eyes, and Darius pistol-whipped the back of the woman’s head and then pushed her face into the floor, loosening some of her teeth.

In addition to absconding with about $45,000 in cash, the suspects also took a firearm from one of the victims and stole an SUV belonging to another one of the victims. The SUV was found a short distance away at an apartment complex where police later determined from surveillance video that the suspects had parked a different vehicle before walking to rob the business.

The vehicle the suspects originally arrived in was able to be tracked to an address in St. Paul where Darius was listed as residing. Ryan Elam was able to be connected to the vehicle through oil change records, and surveillance from the oil change business matched the female robber from the Hopkins business robbery.

The complaints do not explain how Darius and Ryan are related but say that police observed them both coming and going from the St. Paul residence, as well as traveling to gun ranges together and appearing together in social media posts following the robbery.

Both suspects have each been charged with three counts of first-degree aggravated robbery. Darius Elam is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Darius Elam is prohibited from possessing firearms due to a recently completed prison sentence in Illinois for aggravated battery with a firearm.

Both defendants made their first court appearances on Friday and were granted public defenders. Both are being held on $750,000 bail and are each scheduled to make their next court appearances on March 28.

A statement from the Hopkins Police Department acknowledged and thanked the FBI, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, and the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office for assistance in the case.

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.

 

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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.