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1 arrested, 2 more at large in robbery

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

COVINGTON -- Saturday night proved to be a long one for at least four law enforcement agencies involved in tracking down the suspects in the armed robbery of Covington's Taco Bell restaurant. Before the night was over, gunfire was exchanged and one of the suspects was in custody. Two others were still at large Monday, according to the Covington Police Department.

CPD Lt. Wendell Wagstaff said two men entered the restaurant and pointed a gun at employees, demanding cash. A third man stayed in the red Toyota Celica and drove the suspects away following the robbery.

A quick-thinking customer at the drive-through window alerted the CPD to an armed robbery in progress about 9 p.m.

"A person saw the hands up inside the restaurant while going through the drive-through," Wagstaff said. "They followed the car onto I-20 and we caught up with them."

Wagstaff said CPD officers organized a "rolling road block" by slowing down the flow of traffic on the interstate and blocking the suspect vehicle so it had to come to a stop.

However, once the officers were outside their cars, the driver of the Toyota attempted to run over a CPD officer, Wagstaff said. The officer was able to avoid the vehicle and fired his weapon at the Toyota, which took off westbound on I-20, he said.

CPD officers were joined by Newton County Sheriff's Office deputies and pursued the vehicle into Rockdale County.

The vehicle exited the interstate at the Ga. Highway 138 exit in Conyers and took a right. At that point, deputies with the Rockdale County Sheriff's Office and Conyers Police Department took the lead in the chase, Wagstaff said.

Wagstaff said an RCSO deputy conducted a PIT maneuver, which resulted in the driver of the Toyota losing control north of Hi Roc Road. The three suspects then fled into a heavily wooded area.

"As the suspects were exiting the vehicle, one of the subjects pointed a weapon at Rockdale and Newton County deputies," said NCSO spokesman Lt. Tyrone Oliver. "Newton County deputies fired their weapons at the suspect."

RCSO deputies set up a perimeter of the area and officers from all four agencies continued their search. Wagstaff said a bag containing cash from the robbery was located in the woods.

"We kept the perimeter set up far into the morning hours. We knew the suspects were still in the wooded area, and we were still receiving 911 calls telling us of sightings of them," said RCSO spokeswoman Sgt. Jodi Shupe. "They'd call saying, 'Someone just came to my door asking for water.' There were several strange phone calls, so we knew they were out there."

Shupe said about 7:10 a.m. an RCSO investigator spotted a black man in the Kings Mountain area at the intersection of Hi Rock Road and Arlin Street and asked for his ID.

"He was all muddy, had abrasions and had cash in his pocket that was in small denominations," Shupe said. "The story he gave as to why he was out there made absolutely no sense. He was taken into our CID, interviewed and charged with the armed robbery."

Michael Curtis Jackson, 21, of 4536 Westminster Drive, Ellenwood, was arrested and taken to the Rockdale County Jail and later transferred to the Newton County Detention Center.

The search for the other two suspects is ongoing, Wagstaff said, adding that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will also be investigating the shooting incidents.