Police search for suspects in string of robberies

Police combed the far southside on Thursday, looking for suspects in an armed robbery crime spree that included a high-speed chase through Johnson County.

Officers searched the area of Stop 12 and Madison Avenue, just north of County Line Road, for as many as four suspects described as armed and dangerous and warned the public to call 911 immediately if they were spotted.

The suspects were involved in a carjacking and an armed robbery of a gas station in Columbus and Seymour, and ran from police in a pursuit on Interstate 65 through Johnson County that reached speeds of more than 100 mph.

The chase ended on the southside, where a wrecked sport-utility vehicle that the suspects had carjacked in Clermont was found, said Sgt. John Perrine, Indiana State Police spokesman. A handgun was recovered at the scene, Indiana State Police said.

Hours after the carjacking, the vehicle was used in the robbery of a gas station in southern Bartholomew County.

The robbery incidents began around midnight Wednesday when Avon firefighter Jeff Petri was pumping gas into his Hummer at a gas station in Clermont, Indiana State Police said. He was approached by two black males armed with handguns who threatened him and demanded his Hummer, Perrine said.

The suspects took the vehicle, which was used to take the three armed robbery suspects to a robbery of a hotel in Seymour, and then a gas station just off Interstate 65 in southern Bartholomew County.

Seymour police said three armed men held up a clerk at gunpoint early Thursday at the Knights Inn Hotel on the city’s far east side. The clerk was ordered to empty the cash register, and the men left in a white Hummer.

Just after 3 a.m. Thursday, Columbus police were sent to the Ricker’s gas station and convenience store at 3545 W. County Road 450S about an armed robbery involving three masked men with handguns, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman.

Their description matched that of the men involved in the Seymour robbery, Seymour police said. They left the store with an undisclosed amount of cash and were last seen leaving the parking lot in the Hummer that had been reported stolen in Indianapolis, Harris said.

Indiana State Police trooper Kory Clark and Columbus police officers spotted the vehicle on State Road 46, near I-65, but when officers tried to stop the Hummer the driver refused to pull over and headed north on I-65, Harris said.

Columbus police, alerted to the Ricker’s armed robbery, were in the area because they were concerned that the number of gas stations at the State Road 46 exit might attract the suspects to try another robbery, Harris said.

During the pursuit north through Bartholomew and Johnson counties, which reached speeds of 100 mph, the suspects hit tire-deflation devices that were placed on the interstate by police, Harris said.

The suspects left the interstate at Exit 101 just north of Greenwood and eventually crashed the Hummer near the Berkeley Common Apartments at Madison Avenue and Stop 12, Harris said.

The three suspects left the vehicle and fled on foot as officers from multiple police agencies set up a perimeter for a search, Harris said.

The investigation is ongoing.

Descriptions of suspects

Columbus police released the following descriptions of suspects involved in armed robberies in Seymour and Columbus.

Suspect 1: Approximately 6-feet tall wearing a black hooded sweatshirt or jacket and a black face mask. He is a white male.

Suspect 2: Approximately 5-foot-7 to 5-9 wearing a dark blue hooded sweatshirt, khaki pants with white tennis shoes and a red knit hat. His face appeared to be covered during the robbery. Possibly has blonde hair protruding from the hat. He is a black male.

Suspect 3: Approximately 5-5 to 5-7; wearing all-black clothing with a black face mask. Design on his dark pants, knit hat with red and white stripes. He is a black male.

Police are investigating the involvement of a fourth suspect, although no description is available.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.