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Police: Man charged in Minneapolis home invasion targeted a number of Hispanic and Latino families

August 14, 2019 10:50 PM

A Minneapolis man is charged with two felonies after he allegedly broke into a home, threatened and zip-tied a teen and stole about $10,000 in cash.

Court records show that Robert Earl Buckingham, 33, is charged with first-degree burglary with a dangerous weapon and first-degree aggravated robbery.

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Police also announced Tuesday afternoon it is believed Buckingham targeted at least 23 families and that a majority of the victims were Hispanic. 

According to a criminal complaint, Minneapolis police were called to a reported burglary at a duplex on the 2700 block of 12th Avenue S. at about 6:52 p.m. on Sunday. A man told police that he and his wife left their upper level unit at about 6 p.m. with their three children remaining home. The complaint states that the children were 2 and 14 years old, and the third was an older child with Down syndrome. When the man and his wife returned home, they found the 14-year-old zip-tied in the bathroom, and the other two didn't appear to have been harmed but weren't able to communicate what happened.

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The complaint states the 14-year-old said a man, later identified as Buckingham, came into the bathroom, forced the teen out of the shower and threatened to kill the teen at knifepoint, and then zip-tied the teen's hands together. The teen said Buckingham then ransacked the home, and the man and his wife estimated about $10,000 in cash was missing.

A woman who lives in the unit below the victims told police she found a window screen on the south side of her unit had been cut open and there was a wooden box under the window that wasn't there. The complaint states police believe Buckingham came through the lower level window and used a hallway entrance to go to the upper unit.

Surveillance video from the area showed Buckingham standing on the steps of the victim's home at about 5:31 p.m. the complaint states, and then shows him walking to the south side of the home. At about 6:16 p.m., he is again seen walking out of the home and walking down the street, and then driving in the area away from the victims' home.

According to the complaint, officers executed a search warrant at Buckingham's home and found clothes matching the ones he was seen wearing on the surveillance footage. Officers also found more than $10,000 in cash.

The complaint states Buckingham has at least five prior felony burglary convictions and at least two prior convictions for violent crimes.

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, John Elder, with the Minneapolis Police Department, said police are investigating at least 23 home-invasion style robberies, in the south Minneapolis area, that involved Hispanic and Latino families. Police say it’s likely Buckingham was involved in a majority of these crimes. There are three other suspects who police think are also involved. The investigation into these incidents is ongoing. Elder went on to say the families may have been deliberately targeted by the suspects who thought they wouldn't have bank accounts and would not report the incidents to the police due to their immigration status. 

Elder said it is believed Buckingham and other suspects threatened children with weapons to gain compliance from the residents of the homes. 

Elder said the Minneapolis Police Department has no intentions of taking the victims into custody due to their immigration statuses.

Buckinham was arrested and taken to the Hennepin County Jail. His bail was set at $250,000.

He is scheduled to make his first court appearance Thursday afternoon.

A search warrant application states that Buckingham is being investigated for a series of 23 home invasion burglaries in which he targeted Hispanic families with children, entered the homes, and threatened the children, some of which were as young as 9 months old, with knives and guns.

Elder told the media Tuesday that Buckingham could face more charges. 

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