BARGERSVILLE, Ind. — A 19-year-old from Martinsville who was the lone survivor of a botched robbery attempt that claimed his accomplices’ lives will serve two years in jail after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery.
Devon McHugh pleaded guilty in March to the Level 5 felony and was sentenced on Thursday to four years, with two years suspended.
According to court documents, McHugh was one of three young men who contacted drug dealers in December of 2020 stating their intent to buy $400 worth of marijuana from the dealers but actually planning to rob them.
Police said McHugh, 18-year-old Ethan Bell and an unidentified 17-year-old male met the drug dealers at a Circle K gas station on Christmas Eve 2020. The gas station was located on State Road 144, just inside the Johnson/Morgan county border.
Court documents reveal that when officers arrived at the gas station just after 5 a.m. on Dec. 24, 2020, officers found both Bell and the 17-year-old lying near a gas pump with blood pooling near their heads. A Halloween mask resembling a skull laid near the 17-year-old and $200 in cash was visible lying between Bell’s legs. Both Bell and the 17-year-old were declared dead on scene.
McHugh survived the shooting, however, and was rushed to a hospital. Court documents reveal McHugh was shot near his kidney along with in the left leg.
Police spoke with McHugh at the hospital who told officers that he and his friends had been at his home celebrating his birthday and drinking before planning the drug transaction and robbery. McHugh said neither himself nor his friends had been armed and told detectives the plan was to pretend a phone was a gun during the robbery.
McHugh said Bell entered the red car of the drug dealers first and that he had attempted to join him but was told there wasn’t any more room in the car. Court documents indicate at least three individuals were suspected of being inside the red Chevy Cruze.
McHugh said it was the 17-year-old who attempted to initiate the robbery, jumping into the car with the Halloween mask on while Bell was still inside the red Chevy. Multiple shots were then fired and McHugh told police he heard someone say, “dump those kids,” and Bell and the 17-year-old were kicked from the car as it drove away.
McHugh was struck during the gunfire and fell to the ground, crawling toward the gas pump. McHugh told detectives after being shot he had tried to call his girlfriend and then police.
Detectives located the red Chevy Cruze around four hours after the shooting abandoned in a field in Morgan County. There was a bullet hole in the passenger side window, according to the court documents, and 16 shell casings were found inside the car with several bullets embedded within the vehicle.
During an interview with police, McHugh told detectives he and his friends had been drinking on the way to the robbery attempt and had also done drugs. He also admitted to committing around five other robberies before this one with the 17-year-old juvenile. In all those robberies, McHugh said, they never used weapons.
McHugh told detectives they set up the drug transaction at the Bargersville Circle K by contacting the drug dealers on Snapchat.
A person of interest had previously been identified in the case, but police ended up speaking with the individual and found he didn’t, “shed any light to our story or to the story of what happened,” according to Jeremy Roll with the Bargersville Police Department.
“Setting up a marijuana deal, as either a buyer or seller, as a ruse to commit a robbery is a scenario which has the potential to turn deadly,” said Johnson County Prosecutor Joe Villanueva in a previous release.
“Both sides are not afraid to resort to violence because they believe the other side will not report the incident because of the illegality. While McHugh didn’t personally perform the attempted robbery itself, he chose to be part of that plan and acted in concert with his friends. We will seek to now hold him accountable for that choice. Future charges against anyone else involved in the incident will be reviewed as the evidence warrants and that portion of the investigation remains open.”