Police arrest 3 in connection to Casey's General Store robbery

4 years 7 months 1 week ago Tuesday, November 04 2014 Nov 4, 2014 Tuesday, November 04, 2014 1:12:00 PM CST November 04, 2014 in News
By: Drew Whiteman, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

COLUMBIA - Columbia police said Tuesday they arrested three suspects in connection to a robbery at the Casey's General Store on Clark Lane Monday night. 

The report said a male suspect wearing dark clothing and ski mask went in the store around 10:45 p.m. Monday with a handgun and demanded money before he ran away. 

Officers spotted a suspect matching the description in the backseat of a car driving north on Ballenger Lane less than 10 minutes after the initial robbery report. When the officers tried to stop the car, the suspect got out and ran away.

Police said officers saw the suspect "throwing an item into a wooded area while he ran."

Officers said they found the item, which turned out to be the ski mask used during the robbery.

According to police, a K-9 Unit eventually caught the suspect, later identified as 24-year-old Laith Meeker from Columbia (pictured at right), hiding behind a nearby air conditioning unit.

Police said the driver, 29-year-old Tyrel Lemley (pictured at left) and a another passenger, 25-year-old Kristina Whitmarsh (pictured at center), stayed in the vehicle during the foot chase. According to the report, officers took Lemley and Whitmarsh, both from Columbia, with the suspect back to the station for questioning where police said both "made implicating statements regarding their participation in the robbery."

Officers arrested all three suspects on suspicion of first-degree robbery. Meeker faces additional charges including armed criminal action, resisting arrest and warrant violations.

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