ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - Conned into committing a high-stakes heist, that's what the family and pregnant girlfriend of accused I-270 bank robber Ricko Ford, 20, of Capitol Heights, contends.
According to charging documents filed Wednesday in Montgomery County District Court, Earl Kenney, 55, of Capitol Heights, and Michael Heard, 40, of Washington, D.C., robbed a Rockville Wells Fargo bank Tuesday morning. All-the-while, Ford manned Kenney's silver 2006 Kia Sorento, keeping the vehicle running, acting as the "lookout."
Kenney and Heard allegedly stormed the bank lobby around 10 a.m. One wore a mask and waived a revolver in the air, while the other demanded customers and employees to the floor. Police say the men plopped a black mesh bag on the teller counter, ordering three bank employees, one-by-one, to fill the duffel. Within minutes, the trio escaped with $12,898 in cash.
Although investigators haven't publicly addressed what intelligence they used, charging documents say law enforcement quickly "tracked" the men's movement to the southbound lanes of I-270, near Montrose Road. Together, Montgomery County, Rockville and Maryland State Police used police cruisers to block traffic in both directions. A swarm of gun-wielding policemen canvassed the sea of cars, motorcycles and trucks idling on the highway.
With the assistance of a Prince George's County Police Department helicopter flying overhead, police eventually pinpointed the silver Kia SUV. While searching the vehicle's hatch area, Kenney, Heard and Ford reportedly began acting shifty, turning their heads in a "furtive manner." One officer opened a binocular case and located a black revolver. Once all three men were placed in handcuffs, detectives also recovered black gloves, binoculars, a holster, and a black mesh bag stacked with U.S. currency from the vehicle.
During individual questioning, court documents state Kenney and Ford fesed-up to the felony crime. Heard, on the other hand kept tight-lipped, requesting his attorney.
"My sister called me crying," Kenney's brother Darrell Stewart said. "I'm like, 'what's going on?' 'Your brother [is] locked up,' she said. 'Okay, what did he do,' I replied. I then looked at the TV and I couldn't believe it, I just couldn't believe it."
Stewart says his brother is married with four adult children --- two sons and two daughters. The 55-year-old, who court records show was arrested in 1989 for kidnapping, assault and theft, is gainfully employed, driving a tractor trailer for a national freight company.
"He drives an 18-wheeler. It's a good job. He's making 30-some dollars an hour, so money ain't that tight for him. I don't get it," Stewart said while shaking his head. "That's stupid. That's real stupid."
Some 24 hours after shutting down I-270 in unprecedented fashion, all three men appeared via closed circuit television during for their formal bond reviews. What's traditionally a no-frills court requirement, turned unpredictable when Ford's father stood up and addressed the court.
"Judge, my son is mentally retarded. He didn't know the consequences of the crime. He's the kind of person that went to Central High School, but didn't get grades, just credit for his time there," Rick Coleman stated.
Coleman, who tearfully admits he's been absent from his son's life for the last few years, believes Kenney and Heard took advantage of his own flesh and blood.
"I feel like a nervous wreck. I can't believe this is really happening," Coleman added.
Ford, who Prince George's County Police arrested just two weeks ago for drug possession, maintained a blank stare on his face as his father spoke candidly about his mental cognizance.
"I mean my son has a girlfriend here, she's getting ready to have a baby and he needed some money, and Kenney knew he could influence him," Coleman suggested.
"Ricko looked up to Kenney as a mentor, as a supporter in his life. For Kenney to turn around and do something like this is ridiculous," Ford's pregnant girlfriend Matalia Lindsey said.
Lindsay, whose due date is April 15, tells ABC7, Kenney had established himself as a "father figure" in the Capitol Heights area. While not blood relatives, Ford reportedly considered Kenney to be akin to his older "cousin."
"I don't know what happened up there. If he snapped, he needed to let somebody know. If he had a problem, he could talk to the whole family. It's just sad man, it's really sad," Stewart concluded.
A Montgomery County District Court judge set Kenney and Heard's bonds at $1,000,000 each. Ford will first undergo psychiatric testing to determine if he's fit to stand trial.