Elkhart police nab gas station armed robbery suspects

ELKHART, Ind. -- The clerk of the Rebel gas station at 3200 Toledo Rd. in Elkhart was robbed at gunpoint Friday morning and the Elkhart Police Department (EPD) was able to arrest the suspects just a few hours later. 

At around 6:02 a.m. on Feb. 2, EPD officers were sent to the Rebel gas station for a robbery in progress. 

According to the clerk, an unknown male entered the building, conducted a transaction, and then demanded the money from the register, showing he had a handgun.

The clerk said that in fear for her life, she gave the male subject the money from the register. The suspect was able to leave the scene in a dark Kia before police arrived.

Just a few hours later, around 11 a.m., EPD officers located the alleged suspect vehicle (a Kia Optima) in the 200 block of Middlebury St. with a male driver and a male passenger inside.

Officers arrested the driver, but the passenger took off on foot.

"After a brief pursuit in which the passenger also fled on a bicycle, officers detained the passenger in an alley behind the 900 block of S. 2nd St.," EPD said.  "The passenger, identified as Bladimir Zelaya Morales, 24 years old of Elkhart, was found to have multiple outstanding warrants for his arrest."

While Morales was running from police, he allegedly dropped a handgun in the 900 block of Willard, which officers recovered.  The firearm had previously been reported stolen to the EPD in December 2022.

Morales was arrested and booked into the Elkhart County Jail on preliminary charges of Theft of a Firearm, a Level 5 Felony, and Resisting Law Enforcement, a Class A Misdemeanor.

An Elkhart County magistrate set his bond at $75,000 (10% cash-no surety) for this arrest. He was also arrested and booked into the Jail on his outstanding and unrelated warrants.

The driver, 25-year-old Gerson Portillo Valencia of San Fernando Valley, CA, was identified as the male suspect from the Rebel gas station robbery earlier that morning. He was arrested and booked into the Elkhart County Jail on a preliminary charge of Armed Robbery, a Level 3 Felony.

He was also booked into the Jail on a hold for another jurisdiction. An Elkhart County magistrate set his bond at $75,000 in this arrest.

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