Charges filed after raid on Villa Park motel

October 23, 2010 2:37:35 PM PDT
Initial concerns that a small cell of Sudanese terror suspects had taken up residence in a west suburban motel were unfounded, according to Villa Park Police officials.

Last Wednesday night, housekeeping employees at Motel 6 on W. Roosevelt Road in Villa Park called 911 to report that they had seen two handguns in a room, police said.

According to a police statement issued late Friday, "Officers learned that the customer who rented this motel room had no Firearms Owners Identification Card issued by the Illinois State Police. Officers conducted surveillance on the room and observed four subjects attempting to enter the room. Upon approaching the subjects they ran from officers."

Guests in the motel told the I-Team that at about 11 p.m. they had heard a single gunshot followed by sirens and the arrival of a SWAT unit. Witnesses also report that investigators Wednesday night were seen testing barrels of powder linked to the men.

Late Friday, police said that those witness accounts were false; there were no gun shots fired, SWAT units were not deployed and there was no white powder found.

However, according to Villa Park Police Chief John G Heidelmeier, "A number of police units responded to the scene and all four suspects were captured and detained. Three of the four subjects had in their possession numerous credit cards which had been recoded with different credit card numbers. During the course of the investigation officers recovered from the room two hand guns, two laptop computers and a credit card skimmer used to recode credit cards."

Police have identified and charged the following individuals:

  • Dawit Gebremariam, male/18 years of age of Ohio was charged with Attempt Possession of Machinery Designed to Reproduce Credit Cards and Attempt Possession of Altered Credit Cards & Obstructing a Peace Officer.
  • Filmon Habte, male/19 years of age of Ohio was charged with Attempt Possession of Altered Credit Cards and Possession of Cannabis.
  • Yontan Araya, male/20 years of age of Ohio was charged with Attempt Possession of Altered Credit Cards and Obstructing a Peace Officer.

A fourth subject was also detained during the investigation and released without criminal charges.

The charges currently lodged against the three men are Misdemeanor Offenses, police said. "All the offenders denied possession of the handguns. The handguns are being sent to the DuPage County Crime Lab to be analyzed for finger prints."

The FBI deployed two agents to Villa Park following inquiries from the ABC 7 I-Team, but FBI spokesman Ross Rice said late Thursday, that "There is absolutely no connection to any terrorist group and no plans for any type of attack."

Despite the concerns of some motel guests, concerns that terrorists had been plotting an attack, there were "no terrorist indications," Rice stressed.


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