Suspect charged in armed robbery of South Bend Chocolate Cafe

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The man who has been charged with robbing the South Bend Chocolate Cafe lived with an employee of the cafe, according to court records.

Kevin James Yoder has been charged with one count of armed robbery.

An employee of the South Bend Chocolate Cafe called 9-1-1 at 4:59 a.m. on April 2 to report she had been robbed at gunpoint.

Responding officers spoke with two employees who said they had been robbed by a man who was between 5'10" and 6'2" tall and was wearing sunglasses and a bandana over his face. The suspect gave one of the employees a backpack to fill with money.

The first employee told police she was in the rear parking lot of the cafe when a man with a gun approached her and said "give me the money," reports said.

When she said she didn't have any money, the suspect motioned for her to go into the building, reports said.

Once inside, the man grabbed her by the back of the neck and pushed the barrel of the gun to the back of her head as they walked to the back office area, reports said.

While inside the back office, the suspect told her to open the safe. When she asked which one, he indicated the one that she knew was used to hold large sums of money, reports said.

As she was opening the safe, he put a backpack on the ground and told her not to leave anything, reports said.

The employee told police as she was filling the backpack, her coworker came into the office. He told the first employee to keep filling the bag and hit her with the gun, reports said.

The second employee was pushed to the ground and hit in her hands that were covering her head, reports said.

The first employee told police it appeared the man was delivering "wimpy" kicks to the second employee, reports said.

Once the bag was filled with cash, the first employee was unable to zip the backpack. The suspect grabbed the bag and left the building, according to the probable cause affidavit.

The second employee told police she had seen a light in the office and had gone to say hello to her coworker. When she entered the room, the suspect pushed her to the ground and hit her with the butt of the gun, reports said.

Police reviewed surveillance videos from a nearby business. In the video, a person with a bandana over his face, carrying a bag, can be seen at 5 a.m. The man walked south on Michigan Street and then west on Jefferson, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Video from the federal building showed the man as he continued to walk west on Jefferson. At approximately 5:01 a.m., the man put down the backpack next to a planter as a South Bend Police car approached, reports said.

At 5:09 a.m., a person in a white Pontiac Grand Prix drives to the location, picks up the backpack then drives eastbound on Jefferson.

Officers then learned the second employee lives within walking distance of the South Bend Chocolate Cafe with her boyfriend, Kevin Yoder. Yoder drives a white Pontiac Grand Prix consistent with the vehicle in the surveillance video, according to police.

A follow up interview with the second employee was conducted on April 24. She was shown a still from the surveillance video showing the person in the Grand Prix retrieve the backpack, according to police.

She identified the man as her boyfriend and began to cry, police said. She said she wanted him punished for the crime.

Later that same day, officers spoke with Yoder and he denied robbing the cafe.

On April 25, officers conducted a search of Yoder's residence. During the search they found a backpack consistent with the description of the backpack used in the robbery, police said.

Yoder is scheduled to be arraigned on April 29.

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