Federal officials have charged two men in a string of violent robberies in the Avenues neighborhood, including one man who is still on the run from police.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah filed on Wednesday robbery charges against Lynn Ailama Tiatia and Louis Hamilton. Tiatia, 18, was arrested along with a 17-year-old last Saturday in connection to the robberies. Hamilton has not yet been arrested.

According to the FBI, two Polynesian males entered three different Avenues businesses on May 5 while a third waited by a vehicle as a lookout. Before the robberies, the suspects carjacked an SUV at gunpoint near 350 N. Main.

The group first robbed the Henrie's Dry Cleaning and a nearby Subway shop. One male brandished a handgun and took cash from registers. They then held up a Dollar Cuts store where one of the men struck an employee in the head with the gun for being too slow to comply with their demands.

A third male keeping lookout noticed a female driver in her vehicle had witnessed the robberies and pulled open her car door and attempted to steal her purse. When the woman struggled to keep her purse the male pointed a gun at her and asked her if she "wanted to die," according to the charges.

The FBI says that on May 9 Salt Lake City police received information on the identity of one of the robbers, which lead to the minor suspect. The suspect reportedly told detectives that the group used Airsoft BB guns which they purchased earlier in the day at the Wal-Mart located at 1300 South and 300 West. The group then reportedly bought black spray paint at the Lowe's hardware store across the street and painted the guns black.

Federal prosecutors say they plan to bring the case before a federal grand jury for an indictment. The juvenile will be not be prosecuted federally.

If convicted, Tiatia and Hamilton face up to 20 years in federal prison.


E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com