An Atmore man was arrested at an October 25 wreck site and charged with the predawn armed robberies of two local convenience stores and the theft of the truck he reportedly used as a getaway vehicle after committing the second stick-up.
Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks reported last week that James Ronald Marshall Jr., 18, was taken into custody and charged with three counts each of first-degree robbery and first-degree theft of property.
Marshall has reportedly been charged in connection with the vehicle theft, as well as robberies that were reported at the Circle K on West Nashville Avenue and the Shell Station on East Nashville Avenue.
The first curb-store stick-up occurred around 2:35 a.m., the second less than two hours later. The armed bandit, who wore a Halloween mask during each robbery, had also earlier entered the Circle K on North Main Street wearing the same or a similar mask, but left there without making a robbery attempt after a clerk refused to come inside the store with him.
Brooks reported that the Halloween bandit first appeared on police radar when officers were sent at 2:18 a.m. to the North Main Circle K, where a clerk told them about a “suspicious male” who had entered the store minutes earlier. The clerk told officers that she was standing outside the store when up walked “a male subject wearing a blue hoodie sweatshirt, blue jeans, boots, and a Halloween-style mask.”
The clerk said the male suspect walked into the store but she remained outside because she was scared. The masked man stayed in the store for “a few seconds” before coming back outside. When the clerk told the man she was going to call the police, he told her to “do what you got to do,” then walked away.
At about 2:35 a.m., while APD officers were searching the area around the store, an armed robbery was reported at the Circle K on West Nashville.
A clerk at that store was identical in her description of the suspect. She said the man, who took an unspecified amount of cash from the store, entered the establishment, brandished his weapon, and demanded cash. He quickly grabbed the money from the register and fled on foot.
As police continued a citywide search for the masked crook, officers were dispatched at 4:16 a.m. to the East Nashville Shell Station, where the clerk said she had just been robbed. She gave a description that matched the one supplied by clerks of the other two stores, indicating that the same person had committed both robberies. According to the store employee, the gunman took an undisclosed amount of cash before leaving in a silver truck.
While APD officers were questioning witnesses and securing the scene of that hold-up, dispatchers received a report that a man driving a silver truck had crashed in a ditch along Sardis Church Road. The caller also noted that the driver was wearing clothing that matched the description provided by the three store clerks.
Officers responded to the crash scene and learned that the wrecked vehicle had earlier been reported stolen from a Beacon Lane residence. Marshall, the only occupant of the truck, reportedly told police, “I’m the guy y’all been looking for,” and officers found “cash, firearms and some electronics items” in and around the disabled truck.
An employee of the Escambia County Detention Center’s booking and release division reported late Monday that Marshall was still being held in the facility, under total bonds of $150,000.