Man arrested after robbery, four-county chase

Published: Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 8:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, December 28, 2013 at 8:11 p.m.

A man suspected of robbing a Marion County convenience store led officers on a chase spanning four counties before driving into a tree in Union County.

The suspect, Jamal D. Ross, 21, of Ocala, is in UF Health Shands Hospital with injuries from the crash and has not been charged, said Alachua County sheriff's spokesman Art Forgey.

Authorities initially believed Ross may have been involved in an early-morning shooting in Palatka in which a Florida Highway Patrol trooper was shot in the face during a traffic stop. The trooper returned fire and killed one man while another fled.

Ross was later ruled out as the man who fled.

Marion County sheriff's deputies responded to the Handy Way located at County Road 329 and Jacksonville Road in reference to a robbery shortly before 2 a.m. Saturday.

The clerk told deputies that a man, later identified as Ross, had entered the store and demanded $20 in gas. While inside, he stole money from the cash register, a phone charger and two cases of water, deputies said.

Officials said Ross never showed a weapon and claimed he was wanted by law enforcement officials and he was going to kill someone, but didn't want to hurt the clerk.

Ross, deputies said, escaped in a four-door maroon vehicle.

A short time later, Alachua County sheriff's deputies contacted Marion authorities, telling them someone had been carjacked and the vehicle involved in that incident matched the vehicle description involved in the Marion County robbery.

“Once he got into Alachua County, he attempted to carjack another vehicle but didn't get it done,” Forgey said. “He goes on up the road and hits a family in a vehicle, and carjacks it.”

Forgey said Ross was spotted by Waldo police but would not stop. He went into Bradford County, where he was pursued by authorities into Union County. Ross drove into a tree and was taken into custody after that.

Forgey said a pregnant woman was in one of the cars hit by Ross during the pursuit. She was taken to the hospital for evaluation as a precaution.

The family whose car was carjacked got a rental car and continued on their trip, Forgey said.

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