CAPTURED: Fugitive caught after high-speed chase
Published 3:00 am Saturday, April 30, 2016
SPRINGHILL – A high-speed chase and two shoot-outs ended Friday afternoon in the arrest of a fugitive wanted in two states for murder and armed robbery.
Raymond Jerome Pruitt, 39, of Montgomery was arrested around 2 p.m. after he crashed the stolen Hyundai Tucson he was driving into the side of the roadway in Springhill.
“At the end of the day, he is in custody and nobody was hurt,” said Troy Police Chief Randall Barr. “The public can rest easier and we can rest easier knowing this guy is in custody.”
Pruitt’s crime spree began April 5, when he allegedly stabbed his girlfriend and shot her before stealing a vehicle in Montgomery, according to the U.S. Marshals. He then embarked on an armed robbery crime spree that stretched across four Alabama communities, including Montgomery; Troy, on April 19; Ozark; and Prattville, with most of the robberies taking place during daytime hours. On Tuesday, Escambia County, Florida, officials say Pruitt shot and killed a convenience store owner during an armed robbery.
Earlier this week, the U.S. Marshals announced a multi-state manhunt for Pruitt, describing him as “armed and extremely dangerous.”
Barr said officers received an anonymous tip that Pruitt was in the Troy area on Friday afternoon. They found his vehicle at the Sunoco station on Highway 87 around 1:45 p.m. and observed him leaving the station and entering nearby Southland mobile home park.
Officers attempted a felony traffic stop in the mobile home park when Pruitt fled, crashing his vehicle through a chain link fence back on Highway 87. Shots were fired at that scene, Barr said.
As Pruitt’s vehicle entered the highway, he crashed into a truck driven by the police chief, then proceeded on Highway 87 towards Enterprise, with multiple officers in pursuit. Barr said speeds reached approximately 100 mph before Pruitt’s vehicle crashed near 6353 Alabama Highway 87.
“He attempted to flee the scene again, and additional shots were fired before officers subdued him,” Barr said.
The officer-involved shootings are under the investigation of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, at Barr’s request. The results will be turned over to the District Attorney’s office.
“I’ve been in this business for 27 years and I’ve never been involved in anything like this,” Barr said Friday afternoon. “From everything that happened, we felt like this guy wasn’t going to go down without a fight, and he didn’t.”
“In the end, no one was injured and that’s a good result.”
Barr said a weapon was recovered when Pruitt was arrested. “We believe it to be the handgun used in the armed robberies.”
The crash took place less than 100 yards from the home of Latoya Jackson at 6353 Alabama Highway 87.
“I just can’t believe it,” she said. “I work at Ward’s Grocery and we’ve got his picture up there … I thought ‘Lord, that’s the guy in the photo.’” A relative of hers was involved in the Ozark robbery.
Pruitt was transferred to Troy Regional Medical Center for observation and was expected to be transferred to the Montgomery County Jail. Additional charges involving Friday’s chase are pending.
Barr said the arrest was a multi-jurisdictional effort, involving officers from the Troy Police Department, Pike County Sheriff’s Department, Troy University and Alabama State Troopers. The incident remains under investigation by the Troy Police Department and the Alabama Bureau of Investigations.
“This was an effort by law enforcement officials in many states and the federal authorities to bring this guy to justice,” Barr said.
The Florida murder of a clerk was described by local officials as “chilling.” According to deputies, Pruitt pulled the trigger on Chung Lun Chiang and walked out with cash. The sheriff said in multiple reports that Pruitt seemed calm as he left the store after the killing and was in no hurry to get away, sitting in his car for nearly a minute before taking off. The shooting was caught on camera, but the footage was not released.
“This is probably one of the most chilling videos I’ve seen of someone that did this,” Sheriff David Morgan told local media. “He went in in cold blood and killed out of our citizens.”
Pruitt also has a violent criminal history in the Montgomery area.
He was last featured on CrimeStoppers during the month of May 2015 for Domestic Violence Assault 2nd degree. He stabbed the victim multiple times during a verbal altercation.
He was charged by a grand jury in 1996 with recklessly causing the death of a five-month-old baby by “shaking her and/or striking her head against a hard surface.” He was convicted on the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide in 1997.
His 2004 robbery charge and 2009 conspiracy to commit robbery charge were not prosecuted, according to court records.