For four years a crew of calculating armored truck robbers plagued the city of Houston, Texas dubbing it the Armored Truck Robbery Capital of the United States. The ringleader, a born and bred Texan, hid in plain sight using his devious skills to outsmart investigators and justify murder and mayhem.
- FBI – Bank Crime Statistics
- The Doting Boyfriend Who Robbed Armored Cars
- What Drove Houston’s Armored Car Robber to Cold-Blooded Crime?
- The Sniper: Hunting A Serial Killer – A True Story by Chris Andersen
- Get Rich or Die Hard! The FBI Manhunt for Houston’s Northside “Sniper” [PART 1]
- Get Rich or Die Hard! The FBI Manhunt for Houston’s Northside “Sniper” [PART 2]
- Welcome to Houston, the Armored Car Robbery Capital of the World
- From ghost routes to empty bags, how Houston police foil robbers in armored car heist capital of U.S
Robbery #1 (Alvin Kinney)
- Brinks Armored Robbery, February 12, 2015, Houston, Texas
- Up to $100,000 Offered for Capture of the Killers of Brinks Armored Guard Alvin Kinney
- Crime Stoppers – Houston Capital Murder case
- Brinks truck guard shot during Houston robbery attempt
- Guard dies after being shot during armored car robbery Galleria-area bank
- Investigation into Fatal Shooting at 5718 Westheimer
- Police: Guard shot during attempted bank robbery in Galleria area has died
- FBI: Up to $100,000 reward offered in murder of Brinks armored car driver
- $100,000 reward offered for capture of armored car guard killers
- FBI, Houston police release sketch in Brinks guard robbery, murder case
- Family of slain armored car guard urges plea to help find suspects
- FBI, HPD Release Sketch In Brinks Guard Murder Case
- FBI offering reward for information on armored truck robbery
- Houston Armored Car Heists
- As killers remain free, armored car guard’s widow says Brinks, bank ignored crime wave
- Family of murdered armored guard pleads for help finding his killers
- $105,000 reward offered in 2015 slaying of armored truck guard
- $105K reward offered in hopes of finding suspects who murdered 60-year-old Brinks armored truck guard
- Increased reward offered to catch serial armored truck robbers
- Why do so many armored car robberies happen in Houston? One reason – our network of freeways
Investigation & Potential Link to Prior Robberies
- Masked gunmen ambush armored car guard in southeast Houston
- Armored car guard ambushed, shot at bank in SE Houston
- Armored car guard shot during robbery in SE Houston
- Trash bin discovery hints at armored car robbery
- FBI Releases Video in Shooting of Loomis Guard
- Armored van guard shot during attempted robbery
- New video released in shooting of guard
- Chilling new video released in N. Houston armored car robbery
Robbery #3 (Melvin Moore)
- Police: Armored car robbery turns deadly in north Houston
- Armored truck guard fatally shot outside bank
- HPD seeks armored car employee’s killer after north Houston attempted robbery
- Investigators ask help finding killer of armored car driver shot in north Houston
- Armored-car driver killed at ATM in north Houston
Robbery #4 (David Guzman)
- David Anthony Guzman Lopez Obituary
- David Guzman – National Security Officers Memorial Foundation
- Authorities ID armored-car guard shot to death outside bank
- Armored car ambush is third fatal heist in 18 months
- Guard killed during robbery in NW Houston ID’d by authorities
- Armored truck guard killed at ATM was getting ready to marry
- Security guard fatally shot at NW Houston bank
- Murdered Armored-Car Guard Identified
Identification & Arrest
- Sergeants Chris Andersen and David Helms Receive the Award of a Lifetime!
- Redrick Jevon Batiste – EBWiki
- Suspect killed in armored-car sting identified as ringleader
- Slain assassin was ringleader for armored car robbery crew, feds say
- Suspects Nabbed in Houston Armored-Car Robbery Plot
- Men arrested in armored truck robbery sting linked to deaths of 2 drivers, officials say
- FBI Agent: Suspect in Foiled Robbery tied to 2015 Slaying of Cadillace Dealer
- Man killed in armored car sting suspected in car dealership owner’s murder
- Man killed during armored truck robbery sting was suspect in car dealer’s 2015 death
- One man in deadly robbery crew pleads guilty days before federal trial
Trial & Resolution
- Slain armored-car suspect linked to Cadillac dealer’s death
- Trial over deadly ATM heists gets off to dramatic start
- FBI agent links suspected accomplices to kingpin in ATM robbery trial
- Trial Over Houston Armored-Car Robbery Kicks Off
- Wife of man on trial accused of bringing blade to courthouse
- Jurors Get Case of Houston Armored-Car Heist
- Jury convicts 4 men in Houston-area armored truck heists
- 4 men convicted in 2016 murder of armored car guard
- Four men convicted in Houston-area armored truck heists
- Federal Judge Hands Down Life Sentences to Armored Car Murder Crew
- Men get life sentences in deadly armored truck heist
- FBI agent links suspected accomplices to kingpin in ATM robbery trial
- Witness sentenced after testifying in Houston about his “shoot-first-rob-later” armored truck heist crew
- Houston Unsolved Murders: Who Ended the Lives of Millionaire Cadillac Dealership CEO Joe Stewart and McDonald’s Franchise Owner Carroll Oliver?
- Get Rich or Die Hard! The FBI Manhunt for Houston’s Northside “Sniper” [PART 1]
Nicknames are funny things. Sometimes they reflect charming characteristics about a person or a place. Other times, they highlight something not as endearing.
Take, for example, the city of Houston, Texas, which is the largest city in the state, and one of the largest metropolitan areas in all of North America.
Officially known as “Space City” because of its history with America’s Apollo space program, Houston is also known as “The Big Heart” because it provided refuge for thousands of people that were displaced following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
It’s also called “The Energy Capital of the World” – because of its prominent role in the energy sector and provides a large number of related to that field.
However, another one of Houston’s unofficial nicknames is…
“The Armored Truck Robbery Capital of the United States.”
Now that’s a nickname and a conversation starter.
According to the FBI’s crime data from 2018, roughly half of all armored vehicle robberies in the entire nation took place in the Houston region. This number seemed to reach a high in 2013 – when, according to Houstonia Magazine, 11 armored vehicles were robbed in the city. The following year would see a similar level of crime, with 8 armored truck-related robberies taking place.
According to the Houston Chronicle, the city accounted for roughly half of the United States’ armored truck robberies in the year 2018.
When asked about why this is happening in Houston, in particular, federal law enforcement agents have cited the layout of the city itself.
According to former-FBI director James Comey who was quoted by the Associated Press, the city features an expansive network of freeways which provide a sprawling labyrinth of escape routes, allowing thieves to be miles away from a crime scene within minutes.
This , unfortunately, is a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon, and has led to the city of Houston being granted the unflattering moniker of “the armored truck robbery capital of the United States.”
This is Armored… the untold stories of murder, mayhem, and million-dollar heists.
Today I am taking you to the state where they say everything is bigger, including their armored truck robberies.
If you’ve driven through a city before, you’ve probably seen a Brinks-branded armored truck.
The company is a private security firm that banks and other businesses use to transport large amounts of currency. The armored trucks generally have the company’s name shown on the side. These trucks are essentially moving fortresses that are covered in bulletproof armor and, as a result, weigh several tons.
Two guards are usually assigned to a truck. One, always remains behind to ensure safety protocols are upheld and the other, known as a messenger or courier, is the one that typically gets out to carry bags or bins of money to and from the truck.
In 2015, Alvin Kinney, a longtime Brinks courier, likely would have been aware of Houston’s reputation as the armored truck robbery capital of the U.S. The 60-year-old had worked for Brinks for nearly two decades but had never experienced any trouble on the job.
The only commitment that Alvin had dedicated more of his time to was his family; primarily, his wife Rosalind. The couple had been married for 27 years as of 2015. According to ABC 13 News in Houston, Alvin and Rosalind lived in the nearby town of Katy, Texas, and had just recently become empty-nesters due to their only son, Brett, moving on to college a few months prior.
With all of his newfound free time, Alvin had been able to dive into some of his longtime passions – namely volunteering for his church and refereeing local basketball games – but he remained very much a hardworking family man.
On Thursday, February 12th, 2015, Alvin was working alongside his partner, Bertha Boone, another longtime Brinks employee. Just after 2:00 PM, Bertha pulled their truck in front of a Capital One Bank located along southwest Houston’s Westheimer Road. This bank shared a street corner with a Saudi Arabian Consulate building and was a block or so away from the popular Galleria Mall.
As soon as the truck stopped, Alvin stepped out and went inside. Minutes later, he emerged with a bin full of several bags. Each of them full of money destined for separate destinations.
As he exited the bank, he headed straight for the armored truck, just feet away.
At approximately 2:10 PM, a large white Ford F-250 pickup truck sped up behind Alvin and Bertha’s truck and two men wearing body armor, face masks, and gloves jumped out of the pickup and rushed towards Alvin.
Without saying a word, the attackers raised two rifles and pepped bullets in his direction.
It was an ambush.
At least one shot hit Alvin, dropping him to the pavement outside of the bank, just feet away from the rear of the armored truck. As he collapsed, he dropped the money bags he was carrying.
Bertha immediately realized what was happening, flipped on the truck’s siren and started shooting at the masked men who were closing in on Alvin.
Unfortunately, Bertha’s shots were unable to match the attacker’s level of firepower, and the gunmen who were armed to the teeth and utilizing the element of surprise – were able to keep her pinned in the armored truck. Several bullets narrowly avoided hitting onlookers who helplessly watched the brazen robbery unfold.
While the gun battle raged, the Ford F-250 that the gunmen had arrived in started backing up towards the rear of the armored truck. A third masked man – who’d been the person driving the truck – remained hidden behind the pickup during the shootout and began loading the bags of money into the pickup.
Then, just as quickly as they’d arrived, the three gunmen got in their truck and peeled out of the bank’s parking lot.
60-year-old Alvin Kinney had been left behind on the pavement, visibly bleeding from his mouth and ears.
As soon as paramedics arrived, they realized he’d sustained multiple gunshot wounds, including a critical shot to the head. They rushed him to Memorial Hermann Hospital, but he passed away shortly after arriving.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Alvin was the first armored truck guard to be killed on-duty since 2002.
Alvin’s loved ones had a hard time moving on following his tragic and violent death. According to a 2018 interview with ABC 13 News, his wife Rosalind described him as the “foundation” of their family, whose loss was too much for her and her adult son, Brett, to bear.
Within hours of the robbery itself, detectives with the Houston Police Department and agents from the FBI had processed the crime scene and reviewed surveillance footage from the bank. They identified three black males as suspects but were unable to make out any further definitive features.
A search of the area led police to the Ford F-250 that the gunmen had been driving, which – oddly enough – had been outfitted to look like it belonged to the Houston Rapid Transit authority.
The truck had been abandoned in a parking garage less than a mile away from the crime scene. A forensic search of the vehicle revealed nothing that pointed to the killers’ identities. A quick VIN search showed that the truck had been reported stolen fom a restaurant in Baytown, Texas roughly one year prior.
Authorities assumed that the F-250 had always been intended to be ditched after the robbery, and it was believed that the three men inside of it had planned to drive to this parking garage and move the stolen cash into a second vehicle. Unfortunately, investigators had no luck identifying or tracking down that second vehicle.
A few weeks after the crime, authorities released a sketch of one of the suspects to the press. This individual, who had been seen by a witness shortly before the robbery took place, was described as an African American man with gaunt features and short dark hair.
Law enforcement never announced the exact amount of money stolen during this robbery, but it was believed to be in the ballpark of roughly $1 million dollars.
During press briefings, members of the FBI described the offenders as “cold-blooded killers” who’d shown no reluctance to use lethal violence on the vulnerable Brinks guard.
The FBI believed that because these gunmen had shown a willingness to execute one guard and shoot at another, that they’d likely committed similar crimes in the past and would probably strike again in the near future.
The feds promised that the assailants would face capital murder charges if they were ever identified and captured.
Despite the publication of the suspect sketch and a $100,000 reward for information, the investigation into the February 2015 robbery and murder of Alvin Kinney grew cold.
Houston P.D. and the FBI took a step back and began considering if the Brinks robbery was connected to a string of other similar robberies.
In those previous crimes, nobody had been killed, but the offenders – numbering between two and three in total – had shown a similar level of foresight and aggression.
In February of 2014, a Brinks truck traveling in Houston pulled into a Wells Fargo bank at around 1:30 PM.
The courier of the truck was walking into a nearby building when he was jumped by at least two men wearing ski masks and dark clothing. The attackers roughed up the courier and ended up shotting the guard in the stomach twice. The truck’s driver tried to help his co-worker and shoot back at the two masked men, which eventually caused the suspects to retreat empty-handed to a truck idling nearby.
The wounded guard was later taken to the hospital and underwent surgery. Thankfully, he survived.
Meanwhile, the truck that had been used by the robbers – which also happened to be a stolen Ford F-250 – was found abandoned on a nearby side street less than a block away from the bank.
According to KPRC News, a witness recalled seeing two “middle aged younger guys” standing near the truck after the attempted robbery.
In that case, nothing was stolen, but the FBI agents working Alvin’s case in 2015 speculated that if these armed robbers were one in the same, then the botched job from 2014 might have strengthened their resolve and caused them to consider changing their tactics.
In other words, instead of going hand to hand with a guard again, they’d changed up their approached in Alvin’s case, and decided to shoot first from afar before rushing in.
In March 2014, at least four men attempted to hold up an armored vehicle at a Chase Bank located along Interstate 45 in Houston.
Two months after that, in May, two men in masks robbed an armored truck driver stopped at a Walmart, who was returning to his vehicle with a bag of money.
Then, in July of 2014, a robbery was reported at a Capital One bank and witnesses there reported seeing the robbers use a Ford pickup truck.
In August, police discovered several money bags – identical to the ones used by armored truck guards – dumped in a trash can at Houston’s MacGregor Park.
According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, those bags bore the name “Garda World,” which is another private security firm (similar to Brinks).
Authorities felt pretty sure that those bags were related to some of the other robberies in the area. They just couldn’t prove it.
But with all of these similar cases having unfolded throughout 2014, authorities investigating the February 2015 robbery and murder of Alvin Kinney continued to grow more suspicious that the jobs were somehow connected to the same crew of men, whose M.O. seemed to be evolving.
After nine months of investigating though, federal and local officials were still nowhere in terms of making an arrest or even identifying their suspects.
The next break in the case wouldn’t come until November of 2015… when once again, a band of robbers armed with rifles struck in Houston.
At around 2:00 PM on Friday, November 6th, 2015, a Loomis armored truck pulled into a Bank of America parking lot in North Houston. The truck’s courier got out and began conducting his business, but after about 20 or so minutes, gunshots rang out.
Just as one of the guards was exiting the bank building, a masked gunman emerged from a white Jeep Patriot parked nearby. This gunman wielded what sounded like an automatic rifle right in the direction of the courier who was sprinting toward the armored truck.
The guard was hit by several rounds but somehow managed to throw himself inside of the truck before his assailants overtook him. He barricaded himself inside behind the truck’s bulletproof exterior.
At that point, the lone gunman realized that the heist had been thwarted and put an end to the robbery attempt.
Surveillance video from the bank showed that after the courier locked himself inside of the armored truck, the gunman started running away.
However, instead of returning to the white Jeep Patriot he’d jumped out of, he sprinted past it, towards a residential neighborhood located behind the bank.
At the end of a dead-end street, the gunman climbed into the passenger seat of a dark colored four-door Honda that was waiting for him.
It appeared one person was waiting inside as a potential getaway driver.
Investigators began their investigation in earnest, suspecting that this attempted robbery was related to the others from the preceding year… but, again, they had little hard evidence to actually prove that.
In this incident, they knew that the gunman had acted alone during the attack and failed to make off with anything of value. The robber had utilized the same strategy of “shoot first, ask questions later,” which was the same M.O. seen in the robbery and murder of Alvin Kinney nine months prior.
The suspect in this case was described in an FBI press release as standing approximately 5’9″ to 6’2″ tall and was wearing a gray, long-sleeved hooded sweatshirt and a bulletproof vest. He also ran with a noticeable limp.
The only major difference between this most recent robbery attempt and the heist when Alvin was been killed was the fact that the gunman had decided to act solo, instead of operating with accomplices.
The FBI released portions of the surveillance footage to the public hoping to generate a lead. The clip they sent to media outlets showed the shooter opening fire then running to meet the getaway driver parked in a nearby cul-de-sac.
Despite a $15,000 reward for information being publicized with the video clip, no one came forward. Investigators were unable to identify the suspect or the driver of the getaway vehicle, and even more disheartening a forensic sweep of the white Jeep Patriot, which the gunman had left behind at the crime scene, proved fruitless.
It had been recently stolen from the area and had been wiped clean.
However, according to KHOU 11 News, the vehicle’s windows had recently been given a dark tint, which investigators believed might have been added just before the robbery.
The case joined the growing stack of armored truck robberies or attempted robberies that the FBI and Houston P.D. were trying to solve.
To everyone’s dismay, they would add another folder to that pile approximately four months later on March 18th, 2016.
Around noon on that day, a Loomis armored truck pulled into a JP Morgan Chase bank in Houston. Moments later, one of the guards, a man named Melvin Moore, stepped out to begin servicing the bank’s drive-up ATM.
Melvin was a 32-year-old father with four children, all of whom were under the age of eight.
After about five minutes of restocking the ATM with money, a dark-colored Nissan Altima pulled into the parking lot and crept up to Melvin in the drive-thru lane.
A masked man stepped out of the backseat of the vehicle and rushed toward Melvin.
At around the same time, gunshots rang out.
Two other men, following the lead of the first man, jumped out of the Nissan Altima and converged around Melvin, who by that point had fallen to the ground clutching a bullet wound to his stomach.
Despite falling, Melvin had been able to react and draw his service weapon. He fired off a few shots, keeping them at bay, and is believed to have even hit one of the men in the upper arm.
Because of Melvin’s quick thinking, the men from the Nissan Altima were unable to get close enough to steal anything. His gunshots forced them back into their car which then sped out of the parking lot and down Houston’s North Freeway. Some sources at the time actually reported that the robbers got away in two cars…the Nissan Altima and a Nissan Quest.
According to ABC 13 News, Melvin’s partner – the driver of the armored truck – had been inside of their truck during the entire shooting.
The Houston Chronicle reported that the driver had been unable to react in time to help Melvin because the attack at the ATM occurred within a matter of seconds. By the time they even realized what had happened, the robbers were already speeding off towards the interstate.
Some good Samaritans attempted to help Melvin by removing his bulletproof vest and performing CPR, but their efforts were futile. He quickly succumbed to his injuries.
Melvin’s family told news reporters that he’d only worked for Loomis for a short time, but had really grown to love it. ABC 13 News reported that Melvin had a lifelong dream of becoming a police officer and had hoped that getting some experience as an armored truck guard would eventually lead to a career in law enforcement.
As police investigated his murder, which was now Houston’s second armored truck robbery-homicide in about a year, one of the first things they did was review the bank’s surveillance footage.
When they watched the clips that showed what happened, investigators saw something that they didn’t expect.
Melvin had been shot before any of the suspects had even gotten out of the Nissan Altima. Which to investigators, indicated that there had to be a shooter with a high-powered rifle outside of the range of the bank’s security cameras who had targeted Melvin before the robbery had even started.
This unseen gunman had been acting as a sniper.
As authorities reviewed the footage over and over again, they realized that’s exactly what had happened. The sniper had taken Melvin down with at least one gunshot, causing him to fall to the ground out of their scope for at least a few vital seconds.
As the robbers in the Nissan moved in on Melvin, the sniper was unable to prevent Melvin from returning fire with his service pistol because he’d fallen out of the vision of their rifle’s scope.
While reviewing some additional surveillance footage from the area, police identified a Nissan Quest, which had been parked in a nearby lot with a clear view of the crime scene.
This vehicle had arrived well before the robbery took place and suspiciously left just moments after it began.
Investigators theorized that this was the car that the sniper had been shooting from.
They’d used it as a sniper platform.
This new development disturbed authorities because it showed that the robbers’ MO was evolving and growing more lethal. Until police could catch them, it was almost guaranteed that they would strike again and take more innocent lives.
That thought was realized a few months later.
On the afternoon of August 29th, 25-year-old David Guzman and his partner were making their daily run to a Wells Fargo bank just off of Highway 290 in Houston. David’s co-worker steered their armored vehicle into the bank’s parking lot just before 6:00 PM and after parking David stepped out.
He was refilling an ATM with money when suddenly – he was shot.
After the shot went off, a blue Toyota Camry that had been idling in a parking lot nearby abruptly pulled forward next to David.
A man stepped out of the vehicle, rushed towards David and sprayed mace in his face to disorient him. The attacker then snatched up the money bag that David had been carrying and made off with $120,000 in cash.
It didn’t take him but a few seconds to hop back into the Toyota Camry and speed off.
David Guzman died from his injuries at the scene.
According to KPRC News, David had just recently proposed to his longtime girlfriend, and the couple had just started looking at wedding venues for that summer. Unfortunately, their life together ended before it ever had the chance to start.
Just like the prior robberies, this crime unfolded in mere seconds.
Investigators quickly learned that the killers had used the same type of ammunition from the prior robberies, indicating once and for all that at least several of the robberies were officially linked.
For more clues, the FBI agents again turned to the one thing that had augmented their investigation thus far… surveillance footage.
As had been the case in the prior robbery and murder of Melvin Moore, the surveillance footage from David’s robbery and death revealed that a suspicious vehicle had arrived near the crime scene before the shooting.
This vehicle, a white Toyota 4Runner, had pulled into a hotel parking lot across the street approximately three hours before the robbery. No one got in or out of the 4Runner, and it sat motionless until 5:57 PM… just moments after David Guzman had been shot.
After the shot went off and David fell to the ground, the 4Runner casually pulled out of the parking lot and left the area.
Investigators immediately believed that the 4Runner was a cover for a mobile sniper platform.
Now, all authorities needed to figure out was who had been behind the wheel.
As fate would have it, they wouldn’t have to wait long, thanks to an anonymous tip, which came in just hours after David Guzman was killed.
A few hours after the August 2016 robbery and murder of David Guzman, the Houston Police Department received a tip.
The tipster who called in asked to remain anonymous and explained that they only wanted a fraction of the $15,000 reward being offered for information in the string of robberies that had been plaguing Houston.
Authorities agreed to the caller’s terms and the informant revealed that the ringleader of the robbery gang they were investigating was a man named Redrick Batiste.
According to Crimetraveller.org they told investigators that Redrick has said he liked to follow armored trucks each to learn their schedules and find out who the guards were inside of them. They also said Redrick was extremely proficient with a rifle and practiced target shooting all of the time. Most interesting of all was that the informant told police Redrick had access to different vehicles throughout Houston and stashed them at apartment buildings throughout the city.
After getting a name, law enforcement immediately kicked their investigation into high gear and started surveilling 37-year-old Redrick, who went by the nickname, Red.
Honestly, at first glance, police had a hard time believing that Red Batiste was anything more than a regular guy. He made stops at local barber shops and stores around town and showed no behaviors that he was violent.
Skip Hollandsworth reported for Texas Monthly that Red was an only child from northwest Houston, who had been in and out of county jail as a young adult for a litany of misdemeanors, including drunk driving, drug possession, credit card fraud and assault.
By 2009 it seemed that Red had managed to get his act together and by 2016 was well on his way to being a reformed criminal. He had a long-term girlfriend, was a father of three kids and seemed destined to settle down. He’d become very interested in flipping real estate and even purchased a handful of cheap properties in the Houston are that he used as investments.
According to reporting by Texas Monthly, Red spent most of his free-time reading self-help and business books or keeping his properties in immaculate condition.
Nonetheless, spurred on by this anonymous tip, police persisted with their investigation into the 37-year-old.
In early September 2016, police put a GPS tracking device on his personal vehicle and installed cameras outside of his home. This allowed FBI agents to see everyone coming and going from his house and for them to build a database of information about his travels around Houston.
One afternoon in early September, while they were following Red from a distance, investigators spotted a white Toyota 4Runner parked at an apartment complex near his house. This vehicle matched the description of the SUV that had been used in the most recent armored truck robbery.
Police checked the vehicle’s registration and discovered that it was a rental car that had been reported stolen back in 2015.
A thorough sweep of the 4Runner revealed there was a small cutout in the rear hatch door, next to where the license plate was. This hole was just large enough to fit a rifle barrel and scope through. The setup was remarkably similar to the makeshift mobile sniper platform that the D.C. Snipers had used nearly two decades earlier.
Even though authorities had good reason to seize the car as evidence in their investigation they decided to just leave it alone.
They believed that Red would return to it and perhaps use it in another heist and when he did, they could use that as probable cause to arrest him.
They knew that if they could connect Red to the stolen SUV, then that would only prove their investigation was headed in the right direction.
Sure enough, Red returned to the vehicle several times over the next few weeks.
He would never let the 4Runner sit in one spot for too long and often moved it between various parking lots where it wouldn’t be noticed. Each location was just a short trip away from his home.
As this was unfolding, investigators continued to search into Red’s personal life.
The Houston Police Officers’ Union reported that FBI agents examined data from his cell phone. The phone’s content showed that it had pinged off of cell phone towers close to many of the armored truck robberies from the prior two years.
The phone also revealed the identities of individuals that Red had been in close contact with during that same timeframe and these men were who authorities believed were his accomplices.
There was 29-year-old Bennie Phillips from northern Houston, another ex-con who’d spent time in prison for drugs, weapons offenses, and robbery-related crimes.
Then there was 37-year-old Nelson Polk, another ex-con from Red’s neighborhood who had a scattered job history.
And lastly, there was 46-year-old Marc Hill, a local small business owner who lived in the same general area and happened to be Nelson Polk’s cousin.
Authorities felt pretty sure that Red was the ringleader of this crew and based on the group’s communications, it appeared that Red was also the sniper. The other men usually acted as either getaway drivers or bagmen.
Something that stumped investigators for weeks though was a combination of cryptic words that the men used repeatedly while communicating through text messages and phone calls.
According to the Midland Reporter-Telegram, the group often exchanged terms such as “care packages,” “go-karts,” “commissary,” and various forms of nuts (such as peanut, walnuts, etc.). The police didn’t know what any of that terminology meant… until they studied the transcripts more closely.
Police eventually figured out that anytime any of the men wrote or said the phrase “care package,” they were referring to a burner phone. If they said “go-kart,” that meant stolen cars. The word “commissary” translated to armored trucks, and any variation of the word “nut” meant money.
Authorities kept at the surveillance for weeks and were able to uncover the answer to one of their biggest questions of all… which was how the group had been able to get their hands on so many stolen vehicles.
Police learned that part of the elaborate pre-robbery planning included Red eliciting the help of a female friend who would then rent a car from a local rental agency for a few hours.
During this short period of time, Red would install a GPS tracker on the rental vehicle’s engine block and clone the key fob.
Red’s friend would then return the car to the rental dealership and other customers would then use it for the next few weeks or months. Red would then track down the vehicle, steal it and use in a robbery.
This ruse allowed the car to be stolen while it was being rented by a complete stranger, preventing authorities from ever tracing it back to Red and his crew.
The FBI was able to come up with a plan of their own to trick Red.
After learning that Red had pulled one of his modifications on a Jeep Cherokee from a Houston-based Enterprise Rent-A-Car and then returned it, FBI agents tracked down the vehicle and installed a surveillance system of their own.
This government surveillance package included not only a GPS tracker that Red was unable to find but surveillance cameras actually mounted inside of the Jeep.
The bureau’s technology also included a kill switch that would override the car’s engine and turn it off if agents needed to.
Leading up to December 2016, authorities began to hear chatter between their suspects that they were planning to pull off another robbery.
According to the Houston Police Officers’ Union, investigators determined that the men were set to target an armored truck at Amegy Bank in Houston. While they didn’t know what date, specifically, the men were aiming for, agents were able to surveil the men as they cased out the schedules of the armored trucks and possible escape routes.
Authorities then made arrangements for the government bugged Jeep Cherokee to be taken to a hotel parking lot in south Houston.
There, they observed Red and his accomplices steal the vehicle and park it at the same apartment complex that the stolen Toyota 4Runner used in the prior crimes had been stashed.
Over the next couple of days, Red took the Jeep into a local tint shop and had a dark tint installed on it.
This tint was the same style seen on vehicles used in a prior robberies.
Texas Monthly reported that the men continued to communicate with one another over the next few days, and it was through this communication that law enforcement learned that two other men were set to be involved in the robbery.
These men’s names were Trayvees Duncan-Bush and John Edward Scott.
The plan was for two of the men to drive the stolen Toyota 4Runner into the parking lot of the bank itself. Those guys would be the actual robbers responsible for rushing at the guards after Red fired a first shot from afar.
Red would be parked nearby in the stolen Jeep Cherokee. The other three men would drive their own personal vehicles around the bank acting as lookouts for police activity.
As federal investigators zeroed on where the robbers would be and who would be doing what, agents began to plan an operation of their own.
And it anticipated that the ruthless band of robbers wouldn’t go down without a fight.
According to reporting by Crime Traveller, Red Batiste sent a text message to his accomplices in December 2016 that stated quote— “”December 7 is game day.”—end quote.
Between 9:00 and 9:30 on that date, the six men planned to make their way toward the Amegy Bank and take their positions.
As expected, a Loomis armored truck began crawling into the bank’s parking lot at around 11:30 AM.
Red and his crew didn’t know it, but the truck had no actual money inside of it. Instead, it was full of law enforcement agents, waiting for an operation of their own to proceed.
You see while monitoring the suspects communications, law enforcement had prepared and positioned teams of officers in concealed locations all around the bank.
As the armored truck pulled into the parking lot, two of the robbers – Nelson Polk and Trayvees Duncan-Bush – idled in the stolen Toyota 4Runner nearby. They were seconds away from pulling up behind the armored truck when a large armored vehicle belonging to the Houston Police Department slammed into the side of them
Nelson and Trayvees made a break for it and ran off, ditching their firearms in a garbage bin along the way. But police officers caught up to them after a brief foot-chase and arrested them.
Meanwhile Red, who was isolated in the stolen Jeep Cherokee across the street, never had a chance to react to the police sting.
Officers had already started moving in and began blocking in his vehicle.
Red attempted to start the Jeep, but the FBI’s kill switch – which they had covertly installed weeks prior – prevented him from being able to escape.
He was faced with the decision, surrender or go down shooting.
Red chose the latter.
Armed with a .223 caliber rifle fashioned into an AR-15, he confronted law enforcement head-on in a shootout.
As he flung open the driver’s side door of the Jeep he fired one shot towards police and the bullet missed SWAT team members.
They returned fire and shot Red multiple times in the chest and leg. Texas Monthly reported that he then attempted to flee over a nearby fence but was unable to pull himself over and eventually collapsed to the ground.
Red died within minutes of being shot.
Within a matter of hours, his accomplices were all arrested and charged with multiple felonies.
Several of the men stood trial in 2018 and 2019 and would later be convicted for their part in the crimes.
Eventually Nelson Polk and Marc Hill were connected to the robbery-homicide of Brinks guard David Guzman.
The Houston Chronicle reported that Trayvees Duncan-Bush cut a plea deal and testified for the prosecution in those trials in exchange for a twelve-and-a-half-year prison sentence.
The other men were sentenced to life in prison.
According to the Chronicle, in the years following the robbery spree, prosecutors were never able to tie any of the suspects directly to the robberies in 2014 and 2015 that involved the murders of Melvin Moore and Alvin Kinney.
To this day, it’s believed that Red Batiste and his friends were definitely involved in those murders, but no evidence can conclusively prove that. Most likely because the men did a good job of eliminating fingerprints, hairs and physical evidence in the cars that they used during those robberies.
Following Red’s death, it was rumored that he was the mastermind behind other murders and robberies in the Houston area during the mid-2000s. One article from Crimetraveller.org states there was credible evidence linking him to at least one other killing in the Houston area. But with him in the ground and none of his friends talking, it was hard to confirm just how many he could have been responsible for.
The Houston Chronicle reported that defense attorneys for Red’s accomplices claimed that when it came to planning the robbery schemes, Red often left the other men in the dark.
So, when he died in the shootout with police, investigators were left with few answers as to how many crimes Red could have truly been involved in.
The FBI has speculated that Red was more of a serial killer than a thief, due to his ability to kill without remorse over and over again. The thrill of committing robbery also was a factor that contributed to his serial behaviors.
If you look at the data, it shows that more of his robbery attempts were failures than successes, but yet he still killed people in the process.
In the end, investigators were never able to determine a clear motive for Red’s actions but it’s believed that his real estate ambitions were his driving force.
You see, Red’s criminal convictions from his youth had prevented him from obtaining any loans. Police believed that his frustration over being a convicted felon and being limited in society ultimately spurred him to pursue other illegal means to accumulate wealth… such as robbing armored trucks.
After his death, authorities learned that Red had been harboring a lifelong hatred of law enforcement, which they believed stemmed from his interactions with police as a teenager as well as what he perceived to be injustices against African-Americans carried out by police across America.
Investigators uncovered that Red had been writing supportive letters to prisoners convicted of murdering law enforcement agents all over the country.
During a search of his home after his death police found several illegal firearms hidden all over and a type of vest typically worn by suicide bombers.
Thankfully, Houston and the entire world never learned why Red purchased that vest.
What we do know is that Red Batiste had the skills to plan and carry out violent robberies, but the real answer as to why he did it may only ever be known or understood by him.
Armored is an audiochuck original.
Hosted by Jake Brennan.
Research and writing by Micheal Whelan with writing assistance from executive producer Delia D’Ambra.
Editing by Eric Aaron
So what do you think Chuck, do you approve? *howl*