Soldiers arrested in McDonalds robbery, allegedly done for Christmas money

FORT CARSON, Colo. - Seven soldiers who police say robbed a McDonalds restaurant in a commando-style heist for Christmas money have been arrested.

Two of the soldiers, dressed all in black, entered the restaurant Thursday night and pointed 9 mm pistols at the staff, police said. The others stayed outside, communicating by walkie-talkie.

The first suspects were questioned in their Fort Carson barracks a few hours later.

''They all squealed right away,'' said police detective John Pentland. ''They all said they needed the money. Apparently, they talked about it prior and just decided it would be easy to do and went out and tried it.''

Fort Carson investigators assisted in the investigation, said base spokesman Douglas Rule.

''We're basically a small city at Fort Carson,'' Rule said. ''You're going to have a wide range of people. But we tend to have a lot less problems than other places. One of the things is the discipline and trying to monitor these things, it does help out a lot.''

Investigators said the men began planning the robbery at a Christmas party to get money for their holiday leave. Enlisted personnel with amounts of service similar to the suspects earn between $930 and $1,235 a month, according to Rule and pay scales linked to the Army's Web site.

Two of the suspects had worked at the McDonalds restaurant until May, when they were fired, said store manager Angie Learned.

Pentland said the soldiers arrived at the restaurant around 10 p.m. and waited until no customers were left inside. He said two of the soldiers were supposed to block the drive-through lane but ''chickened out.''

The gunmen ordered workers to lie on the floor, then pointed a gun in the night manager's face and ordered her to open the safe, Pentland said. He said the manager said she didn't know the combination and emptied out the cash registers, and the robbers ended up taking about $100.

A bystander saw one of the cars leaving and got a partial license plate number, which led to the arrests.

The suspects, all members of A Company, 4th Engineer Battalion, were arrested on suspicion of aggravated robbery, conspiracy and felony theft. The two suspected gunmen also face felony menacing charges.


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