GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - The FBI warned Muskegon County dispatchers about the possibility of a bank robbery in Ravenna more than 15 minutes before the hold-up that led to a deadly chase, Target 8 has learned.
And the FBI was tracking the robbers via GPS.
Dispatch tapes obtained Thursday by Target 8 through the Freedom of Information Act show that FBI Resident Agent in Charge John King called the Muskegon Dispatch Center about 10:20 a.m. on Oct. 13. The bank was robbed at 10:36 a.m.
"Hey, this is John King with the FBI in Grand Rapids," dispatch tapes recorded. "We are right now tracking a couple individuals up in the Muskegon County area around Ravenna. And so, if there happens to be a bank robbery come out, can you make sure we end up getting a phone call?"
Even though the FBI had a GPS tracking device on the suspect's vehicle, the FBI did not provide a vehicle description when asked by a Muskegon dispatcher.
But dispatch tapes show an FBI agent appeared to know that suspects Derryl LaFave and Kristopher Cheyne were in a black Blazer that they used as their first getaway car. That car had been stolen the day before.
"We had our suspects in there before the bank robbery, so I'm sure that's it," FBI Task Force member Pat Harig told a dispatcher.
At the time, he was discussing the Blazer, which the suspects had abandoned not far from the bank before escaping in a blue Oldsmobile Bravada.
Harig told dispatchers the FBI had been tracking the suspects into Ravenna through GPS, and they wanted to keep that a secret.
"Without putting this on the air, we have GPS on the vehicle and on a phone," Harig told a dispatcher. "We do not need that on the air."
In the weeks after the robbery and deaths, FBI agents said little about their involvement. At first, they told the Muskegon Chronicle they happened to be in the area.
The dispatch tapes show the FBI had tracked the suspects into the area before.
"We've got a couple individuals we've been tracking that we think are responsible for a couple other bank robberies down south and they've been putzing around in Ravenna the last couple of days," King told a dispatcher.
It does not appear that the FBI knew which Ravenna bank the robbers would hit next.
The tapes appear to show that at least two unmarked FBI cars didn't quite make it to the ChoiceOne bank before the hold-up and that the agents did not witness the robbery. But they weren't far off.
One of the unmarked FBI cars ended up ahead of the getaway blue Bravada as it headed south toward Coopersville.
What also is clear is that there was a miscommunication. Nobody told Ottawa County deputies the Bravada was headed into their county -- behind the FBI agents -- until it was already in Ottawa County.
And it was an Ottawa County dispatcher who had to call to find out:
"Hey, it's Ottawa County. Can you advise an update?"
"Yeah, they're in your county, now headed southbound," a Muskegon dispatcher responds.
Not long after that, the suspects opened fire on officers from the Bravada. The chase ended when the suspects ran over Walker Police Officer Trevor Slot. Police then shot and killed the suspects.
A woman from Mount Pleasant died after her SUV crashed on a road in Montcalm County.
Mirror parts found at the scene indicate it may be a 2005 Chevrolet Uplander.
An observation survey was conducted by the Wayne State University Transportation Research Group.