Freeborn County search warrants reveal connection between armed robbery, drug possession suspects

warrants reveal connection between armed robbery

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(ABC 6 News) – Freeborn County search warrants allege that an Austin man committed armed robbery in order to help an Albert Lea man make bail.

According to the documents publicly filed Feb. 5, Albert Lea police responded to the 1,000 block of St. John Avenue in the early morning hours of Jan. 19.

The search warrant states that a homeowner told police two men entered his home without permission and attempted to rob him — one masked and carrying a bat or club, and one unmasked, with a gun.

The man struggled with the bat-wielding suspect, and the unmasked man allegedly fired a round in the home.

The homeowner told police he’d won money at gambling recently — likely the motive for the theft.

Shawn Miller / Freeborn County Jail Roster

Police allegedly recognized the two suspects from surveillance video and previous contact with ALPD, and Shawn Michael Miller was charged Jan. 24 with 1st-degree aggravated robbery; 1st-degree burglary–possessing a dangerous weapon or explosive; 2nd-degree assault with a dangerous weapon; and felon in possession of a firearm.

Miller’s charging documents allege that police arrested him during a Jan. 22 traffic stop and seized a 9mm semi-automatic pistol with an extended magazine, as well as a pair of shoes that matched footprints found around the St. John Avenue home.

He was separately charged with 2nd-degree drug possession for methamphetamine allegedly located during the traffic stop.

The second man allegedly involved in the burglary had been in the vehicle, according to the search warrant, but had been taken to the hospital for narcotics treatment and wasn’t charged at the same time.

According to the search warrant filed Monday, Albert Lea law enforcement checked jail communication records and found that Miller had been communicating with Jacob Alan Gardner on the day of the robbery.

“Gardner is currently in custody at the Freeborn County Adult Detention Center and trying to get money for bail,” the search warrant reads.

Jacob Alan Gardner / Freeborn County Jail Roster

Gardner, of Albert Lea, was arrested Dec. 30 and charged in early January with 2nd-degree drug possession–25 grams or more cocaine or methamphetamine; two counts of 3rd-degree cannabis possession; obstruction of the legal process; fleeing police on foot; and driving after license revocation.

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He is held on $300,000 bail with no conditions, or $150,000 bail with conditions.

According to the search warrant, Miller and Gardner had spoken since Dec. 31 about raising money for Gardner’s bail.

A third party had allegedly attempted to sell the Albert Lea homeowner some snowmobiles to raise the money, and Gardner had mentioned how much money the man allegedly had to Miller.

According to court documents, Miller denied any intent to rob the man and said he had been at the home for a drug deal.

Albert Lea law enforcement requested permission to search Miller’s phone for evidence that Miller had either been invited to the home for a drug deal, or had communicated with Gardner and the other suspect about trying to rob the man.

Miller’s next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 23.