Crime & Courts

Three charged with armed violence following burglary at Westmont BMW dealership

Bond was set Jan. 1 for three of the four individuals accused of burglary at a Westmont BMW dealership.

Angel Martin, 23, of the 15500 block of Minerva Avenue, Dolton; Semaje Wheeler, 18, of the 4400 block of West Adams Street, Chicago; and Brian Garrett, 19, of the 8500 block of South Exchange Avenue, Chicago, appeared in bond court, where Judge Leah Bendik set bond at $1 million for Martin and $750,000 for both Wheeler and Garrett, according to a DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office news release.

All three men have been charged with two counts of armed violence , one count of burglary and one count of possession of a stolen motor vehicle, the release stated. A fourth individual, a juvenile, is in the hospital and will appear at a detention hearing upon release.

About 4:27 a.m. Dec. 31, Westmont police received information of a burglary in progress at Laurel BWM on Ogden Avenue. Two officers responded and encountered two individuals, later identified as Martin and the juvenile, exiting the showroom and entering a white Acura with two occupants, later identified as Wheeler and Garrett, according to the release.

After arriving at the dealership, the juvenile and Martin, armed with a pry bar, allegedly attempted to enter the building on the east side but were unsuccessful. The two then joined Wheeler and Garrett in the Acura, drove to the west side of the building, exited the vehicle again and allegedly attempted to gain entry to the building with the pry bar, the release stated. Martin eventually grabbed a landscaping rock and threw it through a pane of glass in the garage bay door, the release stated. The juvenile and Martin entered the building through the broken window, according to the release.

When police arrived, the two suspects exited the building and entered the Acura to flee, the release stated. Police, however, had blocked the driveway with a squad car. Officers exited the squad car and as the Acura attempted to flee, drew their weapons and ordered the offenders to stop and exit the car, the release said.

The defendants attempted to flee by driving directly at one of the uniformed officers, at which time the officer discharged his weapon striking the driver in the chest and grazing Martin, who was seated in the front passenger seat, the release stated. As the vehicle allegedly approached, the officer ran out of the path of the Acura and used his free hand to push off the vehicle to avoid injury, according to the release.

The vehicle fled east on Ogden Avenue to northbound Route 83, the release stated. Near 22nd Street in Oak Brook, the vehicle crashed into a ditch and the four occupants fled on foot, according to the release. All four suspects were arrested a short time later with assistance from other law enforcement agencies that had responded to assist, the release stated.

The juvenile, who allegedly was the driver of the vehicle, was taken to a hospital for medical attention, according to the release.

It was later determined that the Acura had been stolen Dec. 21 out of Lake County, the release stated.

When processing the scene, police located three firearms inside the Acura: a Glock 23 .40 caliber with an extended magazine, a Polymer 80 gun with a round in the chamber and a Glock 17 9mm with a fully loaded 24 round magazine, according to the release. Officers also found a Glock 19 with an extended magazine just outside the Acura near the driver’s side door, the release stated.

Three of the firearms appeared to have switches that could render the firearms fully automatic, according to the release. Inside the vehicle, officers also found a 50-round drum magazine that was nearly full, 28 key fobs for automobiles and two pry bars, according to the release.

“It appears that as we enter a new year, the epidemic of car thefts shows no signs of slowing down,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in the release. “I caution any would-be car thieves that in DuPage County, this type of behavior will most certainly not be tolerated and if you commit such a crime here you will be quickly apprehended, charged and face an aggressive prosecution, regardless of age.”

All three defendants are scheduled for a Jan. 24 arraignment.

Each defendant faces a possible sentence of between 15 to 30 years in prison if found guilty of the armed violence charge, according to the release.

An investigation into the officer’s discharge of his firearm is underway by the DuPage County MERIT Public Integrity Task Force and Forensic Investigation Unit, the release stated.