Robbery suspects caught in Friday manhunt

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 27, 2002

News Editor

Eight law enforcement agencies converged on an area near the Pike and Bullock County line Friday to track two men who are accused of robbing a Steel’s Crossroads store at gunpoint that morning.

Terrell Blakely, 18, of Blakely Glover Road, Union Springs and James Edward Baldwin Jr., 17, of County Road 72, Union Springs, are being held in the Pike County Jail following a manhunt which lasted approximately six hours.

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According to Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas, Blakely and Baldwin, who were allegedly armed with handguns, entered the store at Steel’s Crossroads around 11 am. Friday morning wearing bandannas, toboggans and gloves,

and demanded money from the store’s clerk. Inside the store were the two people who were operating the store and a customer who was seated at a table inside the store.

According to Thomas, the two men allegedly made the clerk open the cash register and pulled the store’s telephone from the wall. He said the men also allegedly made an unsuccessful attempt to pull the pay phone from the wall.

After leaving the store with several hundred dollars in cash, the men fled into the nearby woods. "That’s when we (the Pike County Sheriff’s Department) were notified," said Thomas. "We responded quickly and immediately contained the suspects in the area," he added.

Thomas said tracking dogs from the Troy Police Department’s K-9 unit and the Venpress Prison K-9 team were brought in to assist in the hunt for the two men. Two helicopters from the Alabama Department of Public Safety were eventually called in to assist with the search from the air.

Thomas said shortly after arriving on the scene, officers from the Pike County Sheriff’s Department located what was believed to be the suspects’ vehicle parked about 100 yards from the store on a logging road off of a nearby dirt road. He said the two robbery suspects were contained in an area of about 1,000 acres of rough terrain which included a large wet area of creeks and streams, along with a thick undergrowth of brush and briars.

Thomas said one of the suspects was apprehended between 5:00 and 5:30 p.m. at a residence and the other suspect was arrested in bullock County later that night. He said several hundred dollars in cash was recovered during the arrests of the two men.

According to Thomas, both men have confessed to the crime and are currently being held in the Pike County Jail under $100,000 bond each. Both are charged with first degree robbery and must each pay $50,000 cash to be released. Baldwin is charged as an adult in the case.

"I would like to thank the different agencies and the many people in the community who helped in the search of this very large area which is made up of very difficult terrain," said Sheriff Thomas. "A very quick response time and a team effort of everyone involved helped bring this robber case to a very rapid close. I express my gratitude and appreciation to the Troy Police Department and their K-9 unit, the Alabama Department of Public Safety and their flight crew, the district attorney’s office, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, the Bullock County Sheriff’s Department, the Union Springs Police Department, Constable John Sanders, the members of the Steel’s Crossroads and Needmore Communities, Haynes Ambulance Service, who were on standby and the members of the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, for all they did to aid in this effort."