SOUTH BEND - Gun-toting SWAT units stormed a South Bend home Thursday night looking for a “one-man crime wave” suspected in several armed robberies.
Across town, Dennis Knight was strolling quietly into the St. Joseph County Jail.
“He walked into the jail at 6:45 when he heard we were out here,” Sheriff Michael Grzegorek said after the raid on the home in the 54000 block of Ivy Road came up empty.
A warrant for the arrest of Knight, 50, was issued Wednesday, the same day South Bend police sent out an alert asking for the public’s assistance in locating the suspect authorities deemed a “one-man crime wave.”
Knight was being sought in connection with several armed robberies in the area, including the July 20 robbery of the Family Dollar store on Western Avenue; the Aug. 11 robbery at Smoke For Less in the 1400 block of Portage Avenue; the Aug. 12 robbery at Subway in the 1600 block of Portage Avenue; and the robbery at Save-A-Lot in the 300 block of South Chapin Street Aug. 13.
In all of the last three robberies, police said the perpetrator wore a wig.
Authorities also have not ruled Knight out as a suspect in the robbery at Murphy’s USA gas station in the 3600 block of Portage Tuesday night.
Knight’s last known address was in the 1400 block of King Street, although investigators had tracked him to an abandoned home, where he was thought to be living with a woman believed to be his girlfriend.
Thursday afternoon, South Bend police received a tip that Knight had been spotted outside a home in the 54000 block of Ivy Road, where an acquaintance reportedly resided.
Sgt. Nathan Cannon, of the South Bend Police Department’s detective bureau, said he acted on the tip by going to the Ivy Road address.
“I saw him at 4 (p.m.),” Cannon said. “He was walking outside.”
SWAT and K-9 units from South Bend police, St. Joseph County and Mishawaka, along with a mobile command unit manned by Clay Fire personnel. responded to Cannon’s call for backup.
A secured perimeter was set up around the area while neighbors were evacuated.
“A guy came in with a gun and a magazine this long,” said Ivy Road resident Gale Schaal, 87, holding his fingers about six inches apart, “and said move out.”
But by the time SWAT units moved in to get Knight, the house was empty.
“Before we could get set up, he fled,” Grzegorek said.
Knight fled all the way to the St. Joseph County Jail, where he surrendered peacefully at 6:45 p.m., the sheriff said.
Schaal and his daughter, Robin Himes, stood two blocks away from Schaal’s home on Ivy Road as police walked back to their cars after the ordeal was over.
“It’s scary,” Himes said, wide-eyed over a police action that had never been seen on Ivy Road. “My father is 87. He’s there by himself.
“You don’t want to see it anymore, do you, Dad?” she asked.
“Look at me,” Schaal replied. “I’m in my pajamas.”
Staff writer Jeff Harrell: