Row 1: Antoine Gates, Diana Veal, Dontaye Singletary. Row 2: Rashaad McNair, Jamell Brooks and Robert Earl Johnson III. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
Updated: June 18, 2013 7:59AM
GARY — On a muggy August night in 2010, a cabal of would-be robbers conspired to break into a social club for the cash they thought they’d find.
Before dawn broke, the six — or more — had killed two men, both innocent victims, but didn’t even steal enough cash to share with everyone, one witness told police.
Two years and 10 months after Kevin Champion, 41, was shot and killed as he left the family-owned liquor store at 17th Avenue and Grant Street, police now say he was a secondary target.
All six suspects provided Detective James Bond their version of the killing spree. Their admissions are included in a nine-page probable cause affidavit filed late Wednesday in Lake Superior Court.
Earlier, Rashaad McNair, 25, and his sister, Diane Veal, 22, rounded up others to join them in raiding a gambling house where their father sometimes visited.
But the first attempt to break into the brick home in the 1300 block of Johnson Street failed, so McNair, with three others, decided to hit Champ’s Liquors. Champion was killed as he sat in his SUV in the parking lot. A surveillance video shows the shooter climbing into the truck to search for cash. He didn’t find any.
Then McNair and others took another run at the social club operated by Franklin Simmons, 61, a former Marine and retired police officer from South Carolina.
Simmons was alone in the basement when McNair, Jamell Brooks, 22, his stepfather, Antoine Gates, 36, Robert E. Johnson III, 22, and Dontaye Singletary, 21, managed to force their way inside.
Brooks, McNair and Singletary all fired weapons, striking Simmons at least 11 times, court records state. Simmons’ friend and landlord, Arthur Lewis, found his body later that morning.
All six people, including Veal, are charged with murder, murder in perpetration of a robbery, robbery, burglary and attempted burglary. Veal and Johnson are not in custody, and all but Veal have lengthy criminal records in Lake County.
McNair was charged last year with murder in the Champion case.
Brooks has two prior charges of disarming a law enforcement officer, the most recent case occurred in September.
Gates was charged last year with am armed robbery in Munster.
And Singletary was charged with the Nov. 1 murder-for-hire of Portage resident Carl Griffith Sr., 72.