After a four-month investigation into a series of armed robberies in the area, Huntsville police detectives have now charged two Huntsville residents with the aggravated robbery of an area convenience store.

On Thursday, the HPD charged Brian Dexter Welch, 22, and his brother Nathaniel Welch, 17, with the armed robbery of the Valero station at 101 FM 980.

The robbery originally occurred on July 6 of this year, the last in a series of armed robberies the HPD says could have been committed by the same group.

A third suspect, Victor Ray Allen, 18, of Houston, is still at large.

Both Welch brothers are currently in custody at the Harris County Jail, where they are being held on charges of another armed robbery, this one at a Whata-burger in Houston on July 8.

Accord-ing to Detective Ken Foulch of the HPD, the brothers, along with three others, entered the Houston Whataburg-er on the evening of July 8 and robbed both the business and its patrons at gunpoint, using a shotgun and several handguns.

During the robbery, an employee pulled an alarm, and the robbers exited the building, fleeing in a car. They were pursued by a responding Houston Police vehicle, until they crashed their car in a nearby retention pond.

Two of the suspects were taken into custody immediately, while two more were captured shortly after in woods nearby. The fifth suspect was subdued by a Houston Police K-9 Unit.

All five were transported to the Harris County Jail, where four are still held. Allen was released on bail and is believed to be in the Houston area.

Shortly after the incident in Houston, Foulch and HPD Detective Roy Moore were informed by Harris County officials that several suspects from their Huntsville robbery cases might be in Harris County custody.

After investigating and viewing Houston Police Department lineups in conjunction with security camera video, Foulch and Moore were able to identify both Welch brothers and Allen as the perpetrators of the Valero armed robbery, with assistance from Houston Police and Texas Ranger Steven Jeter.

After identifying the suspects, Welch and Moore interviewed the Welch brothers at the Harris County Jail and charged them both with aggravated robbery, in addition to the aggravated robbery charges already brought by Harris County.

Foulch and Moore are still investigating the case, in an effort to tie the suspects to several other burglaries that occurred before the July 6 Valero robbery. On April 27 of this year, the Huntsville La Quinta Inn was robbed in a similar fashion, followed by the Huntsville Whataburger on May 1. Similar crimes have also occurred in Montgomery County, and Houston Police have also linked the suspects to several pawn shop robberies in the Houston area.

“They got more and more violent as they went along,” Foulch said. “They went from simple gunpoint to putting guns right in people’s faces at the last Whataburger robbery. They were also pretty elaborate. They had lookouts and disguises and they were very aware of security cameras, so we’re still working on many aspects of this case.”

Foulch attributed the length of the investigation in part to the complexity of the suspects’ activities, but also to a pattern that only broke with the Valero robbery.

“Up until that point, all the robberies we had seen had taken place on I-45,” he said. “So we thought the suspects were what we call ‘travelers,’ robbers who travel up and down major highways hitting stores along the way, which makes them hard to catch. It was only when they hit the Valero, a place off I-45, that we realized we might have some local guys, and we started looking in that direction.”

Foulch and Moore have not yet definitively linked the suspects to the other Huntsville robberies, but are working to determine if there is a connection.

Foulch urged anyone with any information on any of the Huntsville robberies, or on the whereabouts of Victor Ray Allen, to contact the Huntsville Police Department at (936) 291-5480.

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