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Monday, June 20, 2022

Two Dunnellon men arrested after allegedly being involved in armed robbery

Two 19-year-old men from Dunnellon were arrested by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office after allegedly being involved in an armed robbery.

On Saturday, June 18, an MCSO detective responded to the 5800 block of SW 169th Court in Dunnellon in reference to a robbery investigation. Upon arrival, an MCSO deputy informed the detective that a male victim claimed to have been held at gunpoint and robbed by three individuals: an unknown man and two male acquaintances who were later identified as Matthew Ray Clas and Michael Brandon Ellis.

Two Dunnellon men arrested after allegedly being involved in armed robbery
Matthew Ray Clas (left) and Michael Brandon Ellis (right)

The detective located the victim and conducted an interview. The victim stated that he had agreed to meet Clas and Ellis to “smoke some marijuana,” and both men arrived at the victim’s residence in a red Nissan Altima.

The victim advised that a third man was inside the vehicle, and the victim did not recognize him. According to the victim, Clas was driving the vehicle, Ellis was in the backseat on the driver’s side, and the unknown male suspect was in the back seat on the passenger’s side.

The victim entered the vehicle, sat in the front passenger’s seat, and the vehicle drove a short distance from the residence. The unknown man seated behind the victim allegedly wrapped his arms around the victim’s neck, pressed a gun against the victim’s neck, and demanded that the victim’s personal property be handed over.

While the unknown man’s arms were around the victim’s neck, the victim stated that he had difficulty breathing. The man demanded to know what was inside the victim’s blue backpack that he was carrying. The victim handed over the backpack and the man also instructed the victim to empty his pockets.

The victim removed his wallet and cellphone from his pockets. When he handed the items to the unknown male suspect, the victim stated that he was told to “get the (expletive) out” of the vehicle. The victim stated that as soon as he stepped outside of the vehicle, it sped away.

The MCSO report indicated that the following items were stolen from the victim: an iPhone 12 ($700 value), iTunes Bluetooth speaker ($25 value), a wallet containing miscellaneous cards ($20 value), several keys, a backpack ($30 value), and seven grams of medical marijuana.

Using the ‘find my phone’ app, the detective located the victim’s cellphone in a nearby wooded area.

The victim provided Snapchat usernames that were used by Clas and Ellis. Through investigative techniques, the detective was able to identify both men, and the detective also learned that a relative of Clas owned a red Nissan Altima.

The detective responded to the 4000 block of SW Hyacinth Court and located the Nissan Altima. The owner of the vehicle was located and confirmed that Clas had been given permission to use the vehicle on the day of the incident. The relative then called Clas and asked for him to come home.

Within minutes, Clas arrived at the residence in another vehicle belonging to his relative, and Ellis was in the passenger seat. Both men were detained and interviewed separately.

During both interviews, Clas and Ellis told the detective that the unknown third male suspect had wanted to purchase marijuana, and they knew that the victim had some. They both claimed that they were unaware that the third man was going to rob the victim at gunpoint, and they also claimed that they had been robbed during the incident as well.

According to the MCSO report, shortly into Clas’ interview, he stated that he “wished to be truthful.” He claimed that he knew the unknown suspect as “Trevor,” and “Trevor” had asked to set up the robbery since he was aware that the victim had marijuana.

Clas stated that he told “Trevor” that he did not want to set the victim up, and “Trevor” told him that he did not have a choice.

Clas and Ellis were both arrested and transported to Marion County Jail where they are currently being held on $20,000 bond. They are both facing a felony charge for robbery with a firearm.

A court date has not been scheduled yet for Clas or Ellis, according to jail records.