4 arrested in Circle K gas station armed robbery

No injuries were sustained during the robbery.

Jeremy Vestal, Josh Howerton and Ashley Close, who were arrested Friday, told detectives the robbery was an inside job arranged by Circle K employees.

The cashier on duty at the time of the robbery, Nancy White, was arrested later on Friday after revealing to police she discussed robbing the station with Vestal, Howerton and Close prior to the robbery occurring.

The four allegedly decided to rob the gas station about an hour before the crime occurred, Bloomington Police Sgt. Lucas Tate said.

Detective Sgt. John Kovach said police were notified of the robbery at about 2:46 a.m. A Circle K employee described the culprit to police as a white male wearing camouflage with a bandana pulled over his face. The suspect was later identified as Vestal.

Following the incident, where Vestal allegedly got away with an undisclosed amount of cash on a bicycle, Kovach said a police officer observed a man with a similar description riding a bicycle near the corner of East Fourth and South Dunn streets.
After turning around to track the individual, Kovach said the officer found a bicycle he believed the suspect was riding, but the suspect was not there.

Around the same time, Kovach said another officer stopped another man, later identified as Howerton, on a bicycle.
The officer determined Howerton was not the robbery suspect, Kovach said. But Howerton answered questions in a way that made the officer believe he was involved or was aware of the incident. He also gave the officer his address, which was on the 1500 block of West Kirkwood Avenue, before he was released.

Kovach said detectives then contacted Yellow Cab and asked if any cab drivers picked up individuals matching a description of the robbery suspect. A Yellow Cab employee told officers a cab had picked up two men, one with a matching description, on the 1500 block of West Kirkwood Avenue.

At that time, the Yellow Cab employee told authorities the cab was currently en route to the Motel 6 at 1800 N. Walnut St. The cab dropped the suspects off at the motel at about 3:34 a.m.

Meeting the cab at Motel 6, officers found Vestal and Howerton in the lobby, along with Close.

Following questioning and the recovery of a pistol and cash, police took the three individuals into custody.

After making statements that the robbery was a setup from a gas station clerk, Vestal was arrested for theft, a Class D felony, and possession of a handgun without a permit, a Class A misdemeanor.

Kovach said Howerton and Close were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit theft, a Class D felony, and various smaller charges. Tate said White was arrested for conspiracy to commit theft, a Class D felony.

— Colleen Sikorski

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