Sheriff: Four men likely suspects in multiple robberies

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 23, 2001

Staff Writer

The arrest of four Barbour County residents may have explained at least two recent armed robberies and prevented a third one, authorities said.

Jasper L. Toney, 19, of Eufaula; and Andrew Carey, 21, Aurelius D. Morris, 22, and a 15-year-male, all of Clayton, have been charged with the Dec. 14 armed robbery of Trawick’s Grocery in the Josie Community.

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"During our interviews, they confessed to robberies in Bullock and Barbour counties," said Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas.

Thomas said two of the men, whose identities were not released, confessed to robbing the Fox’s Pizza in Union Springs on Dec. 11.

He did not elaborate on the other cases, but the sheriff did say the men told authorities they had been planning to rob another Pike County store on Thursday, shortly before their arrest.

Thomas said the four confessed they were planning to rob the Coastal Store on Highway 130. They apparently changed their plans because of the number of patrons in the store and headed back to Josie with the intent to rob either Trawick’s again or the Tanyard Grocery just over the Barbour County line on Highway 29.

A resident’s tip notified authorities that the suspects were in the area.

That tip led to a "20- to 25-minute" car chase, Thomas said, that started about 10:30 a.m. Thursday when deputies attempted to stop the 2000 Chevy Malibu in which three suspects were riding. The suspects threw several items from the car during the chase, Thomas said. Two weapons, bandanas and knit stocking caps were recovered.

The chase ended just outside Clayton in Barbour County when the suspects abandoned the car. Authorities spent the next several hours tracking the suspects on foot.

Deputies had all four suspects in custody by midnight Thursday, Thomas said.

On Friday, the four were in the Pike County Jail, each with a bond of $50,000. More charges are expected in connection with the customers who were robbed while in the store.

"What was crucial to this case was we were able to get information out about the suspects and vehicle," Thomas said.

The day after the robbery, Pike County deputies were able to tell business owners and residents for whom and what they were looking. It was one of those observant citizens who notified the sheriff’s department the suspects were in Pike County. "This neighborhood watch helped," Thomas said.

The sheriff also said assistance from other agencies was the key in capturing the suspects who may be charged with robberies in Bullock and Barbour counties.

"We appreciate the community’s help and assistance we got from the Department of Public Safety, Barbour County Sheriff’s Office and Easterling (state prison), which provided tracking dogs."

No one was injured in the Trawick Grocery robbery, but more than $2,000 was taken from the cash register and from the patrons, Thomas said.