- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Federal charges have been filed against two men accused of robbing a Missoula convenience store of $3,200, carjacking a family and shooting at police during a chase.

Thomas Earl Dempsey, 36, and Nick West, 38, appeared Tuesday before a federal judge in Missoula on robbery, carjacking and firearms charges. They did not enter pleas.

Both men are registered violent officers and are being held without bond until their next court appearances.

Prosecutors say Dempsey and West robbed a convenience store near Missoula International Airport early Friday. A man from Washington state and his 12-year-old son entered the store shortly after the suspects and Dempsey told them to leave, court records said. The suspects reportedly took the keys of someone in the store and stole his car.

The family called 911 and they were waiting near the scene in their car when the suspects forced themselves into the family’s vehicle at gunpoint.

The suspects agreed to release the boy, a 14-year-old girl and their grandmother after telephone negotiations with Missoula police, but then fired shots at officers and sped off with the children’s parents still in the car, court records said.

The parents were released near Evaro, northwest of Missoula. Dempsey’s wife picked them up, court records said. The men were arrested later Friday.

Court records say officers identified the suspects by tracking traffic on cellphone towers around Missoula and cross-referencing phone numbers with information from the state probation and parole office. Calls came from Dempsey and West’s cellphones, court records said.

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