Sheriff: Robbery suspect commits suicide after police chase

A 27-year-old Russell County robbery suspect committed suicide after a brief police chase ended in an automobile crash, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said Wednesday.

Johnny Robertson, of Hamilton, Ga., was found dead on the scene after a Russell County Sheriff's deputy gave chase to the Volkswagen Beetle along Alabama Highway 169 and U.S. 431 South.

Timothy Ryan, 26, of Phenix City, was arrested and charged with aggravated robbery.

About 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, an armed robbery of Kelly's Cafe on 392 Highway 169 was reported. One white male entered the store and pulled a gun, Taylor said. Another white male waited outside in a Volkswagen.

The store clerk ran out a back door during the robbery attempt. The suspected robber went back to waiting car.

"A school bus was coming by at the time and several of the kids on the bus began to take cellphone pictures of a man standing in the parking lot with a gun," Taylor said.

Not long after the robbery was reported, a deputy spotted the Volkswagen on Highway 169 and a chase began. The Volkswagen turned onto U.S. 431 and headed north in the southbound lane.

"Our guy stayed with him in the northbound lane," Taylor said.

The chase covered nearly 15 miles when the car turned onto Clark Road. At that point, the driver first lost control of the car and tried to get back on the road, striking the deputy's bumper. The driver was able to get the car back on the road, lost control again and the vehicle flipped as it slid down an incline when it left the shoulder.

"When we got to the car, the driver was screaming get to him out of there because the other guy had shot himself," Taylor said.

The Russell County Sheriff's Office is investigating the robbery, but Taylor requested the Phenix City Police to investigate the crash and Robertson's suicide.

According to Alabama court documents, Robertson currently was on probation after he pled guilty this summer to receiving stolen property in 2012. In May he was sentenced to 24 months for possessing a .45 caliber M1911 black and silver pistol. His sentence was changed to probation in June.