FBI tracks armed robber through TikTok videos
Federal agents arrested the TikTok personality after he was spotted dancing in what investigators described as his stick-up shoes
By Robert Snell
The Detroit News
DETROIT — Federal agents investigating a series of armed robberies across Metro Detroit have arrested a popular TikTok personality after he was spotted dancing in what investigators described as his stick-up shoes.
Redford Township resident Chozen Terrell-Hannah, 22, admitted robbing four stores after investigators raided his home Wednesday despite eyewitnesses describing the armed thief as a white man, according to the FBI. Terrell-Hannah is African-American.
A criminal complaint describes a three-month crime spree targeting retail shops, fancy footwear and a federal investigation aided by dozens of brief videos posted to Terrell-Hannah's TikTok account "ChozenWrld," which has more than 148,000 followers and 1.6 million likes.
Terrell-Hannah is being held without bond while awaiting a detention hearing Monday in federal court in Detroit. He is charged with robbery affecting interstate commerce and possessing a firearm during a violent crime, charges that could result in a prison sentence of more than 20 years.
His court-appointed lawyer, James Gerometta, declined comment Friday.
The investigation started Dec. 1 after a man wearing black pants, a black hooded sweatshirt, a black ski mask and white shoes, and carrying a black backpack decorated with pink flowers, robbed the 7-Eleven in the 700 block of Benstein in Commerce Township.
He pointed a black handgun at the clerk, collected money and fled.
More than one month later, on Jan. 13, a man wearing a similar outfit, carrying a similar backpack, robbed the Marathon gas station in the 23000 block of Ford Road in Dearborn.
The robber demanded cash while pressing a black handgun into the clerk's back before fleeing with money. He grabbed an 18-pack of cigars while leaving the store where investigators would soon find a clue: a .40-caliber bullet near the counter.
On Jan. 26, a similarly dressed man, carrying a black backpack decorated with pink flowers, robbed the same 7-Eleven on Benstein in Commerce Township. He demanded money.
"The clerk initially refused but complied after the subject pulled back the slide of the gun in a motion of chambering a round and ejected a round onto the counter," an FBI task force officer wrote in the complaint. "This round, which was recovered later, was .40 caliber."
Then, the robber fled.
The fourth robbery happened at an Old West Tobacco store in the 45000 block of West Pontiac Trail in Novi on Feb. 1. This time, the robber was described as a man wearing the same clothing as the earlier robberies, but investigators noticed pink or red hair emerging from the black ski mask.
"After the money was placed into the bag, the subject took several boxes of cigars and then fled the store," the FBI task force officer wrote.
A tipster led Dearborn police investigators to a possible suspect with the account "Chozenn_One" on the Snapchat phone app. Investigators learned the account had been changed to "ChozenWrld" and they later found a TikTok profile with the same name.
The account and videos helped Dearborn investigators identify Terrell-Hannah, according to the criminal complaint.
His physical characteristics are consistent with eyewitness accounts, the FBI task force officer wrote, though some victims estimated that the robber was taller, and a white man.
"Based on my training and experience, I believe due to (Terrell-Hannah's) light complexion, the victims of armed robberies, observing him under the circumstances and wearing the clothing described above, could describe him as either white or black," the FBI task force officer wrote.
Investigators focused on TikTok videos that showed Terrell-Hannah dancing and lip-syncing with a head of hair partially dyed pinkish purple.
They noted a Sept. 24, 2020, post that featured Terrell-Hannah dancing in white Nike tennis shoes with red accents.
"These shoes are similar in appearance to the shoes worn in the above referenced armed robberies," the FBI task force officer wrote.
Investigators started surveilling Terrell-Hannah on Feb. 9 outside his home in Redford Township and in the ensuing days, including a Feb. 11 visit to an area Pet Supplies Plus. And they checked police databases and found a phone number for Terrell-Hannah, which led to investigators obtaining a search warrant for the phone's historical location data.
The data showed that the location of the cellphone "was consistent with being in the geographic area of/around the locations of the above-described armed robberies around the reported times for each incident," the FBI task force officer wrote.
The data also showed the phone near Pet Supplies Plus on Feb. 11.
Investigators raided his home Wednesday.
"A search of the residence led to the seizure of items believed to be used in the armed robberies including a black Glock handgun, a black backpack with a floral pattern, a skeleton full body suit, and white Nike tennis shoes," the FBI task force officer wrote.
Terrell-Hannah later talked with investigators.
"(He) admitted to committing all four of the above-described armed robberies and acknowledged using the black backpack with a floral pattern in all four of the armed robberies," the officer wrote. "(Terrell-Hannah) explained that skeleton gloves observed during the armed robberies were actually part of a full body skeleton suit."
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