Investigation Discovery’s ‘Body Cam: Armed Response’ chronicles how authorities chased bank robber Travis Tarrants across border lines for around five months between late 2021 and early 2022. The episode features surveillance camera footage and interviews with investigators involved in the case to provide a concise image of the events to the viewers. If you’re interested in discovering more about Travis and how he eventually died, here’s what we know.
Who is Travis Tarrants?
On March 1, 2022, a robber wearing a white mask was caught on surveillance video robbing the People’s National Bank on 17th Street in Marion in Williamson and Johnson Counties, Illinois. The security footage showed he was armed with what appeared to be a black semi-automatic pistol as he forced the bank teller to hand over the cash. The Marion police went through the adjacent CCTV cameras and plotted his escape route. While he left the bank on foot, the authorities saw him boarding a 2005 Chevrolet Colorado truck.
Even though they saw him board the truck, the detectives could not spot the vehicle’s license registration plate. However, they noticed several noticeable features, including rear bedside damage, missing driver’s side reverse rear light, and rust on the rocker panel. Since the bank’s branch was close to the Interstate, the police knew they had to cast their nets further. They shared detailed information about the robber’s automobile and the bank’s CCTV footage on their social media handles.
The show stated how the Bloomington, Indiana, Police Department contacted their Marion counterparts within days. They reported a similar robbery at the Old National Bank branch on West Third Street in Bloomington in Monroe County, Indiana, on November 15, 2021. The Bloomington police reviewed CCTV footage to find the suspect escaping a 2005 Chevrolet Colorado truck. However, unlike the Marion police, the Bloomington officers had better luck as they got a clear shot of the vehicle’s license plate.
The authorities checked the truck’s plates and discovered it was registered in the name of Travis Shane Tarrants. A patrolling officer noticed Travis’ vehicle on State Road 446 a day after the robbery. He called for backup, and the police confronted the suspect in Fishin’ Shedd’s parking lot. While law enforcement officials detained and cuffed him, he resisted and attempted to flee. According to police sources, he was also seen grabbing an officer’s handgun and trying to remove it from its holster at one point.
After he was arrested, the officers searched Travis’ truck to find camouflage clothing that matched what the Old National Bank robber had been wearing and a black BB pistol that resembled the weapon shown during the robbery. Based on the recovered evidence and his misconduct, Travis was charged with armed robbery, attempted disarming of a law enforcement officer, and resisting law enforcement, resulting in injury. His bond was set at $15,000 surety and $1,500 cash.
While under arrest, the police ran a background check on Travis to find he had served a previous five-year prison term for a bizarre case of stalking. According to reports, he was a former director at the French Lick West Baden Museum in Indiana and had applied for a fourth-grade teaching position and basketball coaching job in the Springs Valley Community Schools in Orange County in 2016 spring. When he did not get the job, he started hounding and stalking the applicant who got hired and his fiancé.
Between June and September 2016, Travis attempted to mail the couple at least four dead skunks and a raccoon — the carcasses stuffed into packages. Local post offices intercepted several of these packages before they could reach their destinations. He also vandalized their cars by writing threatening and vulgar messages on the side of the vehicles with white spray paint. Travis also called the Indiana Department of Child Services on at least four different occasions and made false but grave allegations against the successful applicant.
Court records showed Travis accused the applicant of having sex with an underage student and sexually abusing an acquaintance’s daughter. He also attempted to manufacture false evidence by sending multiple letters, posing as minors, and sharing lewd genital images. Reports stated he, then 40, pled guilty to two counts of felony stalking, with the July 2017 plea agreement dismissing the two felony counts of intimidation for the threats and two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief.
How Did Travis Tarrants Die?
Travis was released on his own recognizance during a January 2022 hearing and was supposed to report directly to the Wheeler Mission to participate in the Foundations Residential Program. However, he never showed up for his February 15 pre-trial hearing. The probation department notified the court that he had violated the terms of his pre-trial release on February 28, and an arrest warrant was issued shortly. Meanwhile, the authorities also uncovered surveillance footage that showed him arriving on the west side of Marion on February 28.
While two police departments across two states searched for Travis, the Fontana, California, Police Department found his 2005 Chevrolet Colorado truck abandoned in a parking lot near the Montana state line. They noted the suspect’s vehicle had broken down and was most probably on foot. Their suspicions were confirmed when they received multiple 911 calls about an armed individual robbing a Bank of America at 15092 Summit Avenue in Fontana, San Bernardino County, at 1:28 pm the same day.
Officers responded to the distress calls within minutes, and witnesses informed them the suspect had entered a nearby Wendy’s restaurant. The officers set up a perimeter and patiently waited outside for Travis to exit the fast food chain’s outlet. However, there was a confrontation with the officers when he reportedly attempted to leave through the back of the restaurant. Police Chief Billy Green said, “Despite numerous commands to drop the handgun by officers, the suspect refused.”
He added, “The suspect ultimately emerged from the dumpster area with the handgun and pointed it directly at four officers who were just north of his location. That is when the officer-involved shooting occurred.” However, the authorities later noted the weapon he “had pointed was found to be an airsoft gun.” Travis, 45, was declared dead while no one else was injured during the incident. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the California Department of Justice are conducting an independent joint investigation of the incident.
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