Metro-east armed robbery suspect arrested in Texas, faces federal charges

The man suspected in the armed robbery of an East St. Louis convenience store has been arrested in Houston, Texas and is now facing a pair of federal felony charges.

Vernelle E. Hines, 30, arrested in Houston, Texas, was charged in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Illinois with one count of interference with commerce by robbery and one count of carry and use of a firearm during a crime of violence.

“Store employees should be able to show up for work and not fear for their lives due to weapons and violence,” said U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe. “Our partners in the Illinois State Police Public Safety Enforcement Group work tirelessly to bring justice to victims of crime and to protect businesses in the community.”

Court documents allege Hines discharged a firearm and took money, alcohol and other items “by force” from the Mega Supermarket at 1901 Central Ave. in East St. Louis on Oct. 31, 2023.

If convicted, Hines could face up to 20 years’ imprisonment for the robbery charge and a minimum of 10 years up to life imprisonment for the use of a firearm.

The Illinois State Police Public Safety Enforcement Group led the investigation with assistance in making the arrest from the U.S. Marshals Service in the Southern District of Illinois and Homeland Security, according to a release from the federal court.