Armed robbery victim passes away

Published 6:52 pm Friday, January 4, 2019

The convenience store clerk shot in a Friday, Dec. 28, armed robbery has passed away, according to Chief Deputy Mike Haley of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office.

Haley confirmed that the victim died of his injuries. He identified the victim as Abdulraham Alaquir Taleb, 53, of Bogalusa, and said Taleb passed away early in the morning of Sunday, Dec. 30, at University Hospital in New Orleans.

Three Mississippi residents were charged as suspects in the crime — Lance Hunter Rouse, 24, of Picayune, Levi Austin Lee, 17, of Carriere, and Melissa Michelle Smith, 29, of Tylertown. They were taken into custody in Montgomery County, Ala., on Saturday, Dec. 29, and initially charged with armed robbery and attempted first-degree murder.

Those charges have now been upgraded to first-degree murder, Haley said.

The arrests came as a result of an initial investigation into an armed business robbery at the J & Z Quik Stop, located on Highway 21 North in Bogalusa, at approximately 4:20 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 28.

Haley said that detectives were able to quickly identify the robbers who committed the offense. Video evidence showed that the employee was outside the business doing his daily routine when the suspects’ vehicle pulled into the parking lot.

Haley said that two armed suspects got out of the vehicle carrying shotguns and confronted the employee. An altercation occurred and the employee was shot.

The suspects were located in Pearl River County, Miss., at which point they took flight from authorities. They traveled through the state of Alabama and spike strips were used to finally stop the vehicle in Montgomery County.

They were then arrested as fugitives from Washington Parish. A 15-year-old girl who was also in the vehicle was handed over to her parents.

Haley said that WPSO detectives traveled to Montgomery on Friday to transport the three suspects to the Washington Parish Jail in Franklinton.

Each of the suspects will face a bond hearing early next week and will then be held in the jail, Haley said.

“Due to the very serious nature of the charges, it is anticipated the three will receive high bond amounts and remain in the jail until trial,” he said.

Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal said that several agencies contributed in solving the case and apprehending the suspects.

“As I said previously, our detectives did an outstanding job solving this case quickly, seeing the suspects captured within hours,” Seal said. “I am so grateful for all our officers did and thankful for the excellent help we received from other law enforcement agencies in the capture and return of the fugitives to Washington Parish. Sheriffs David Allison of Pearl River County, Mississippi, Kyle Breland of Walthall County, Mississippi, Derrick Cunningham of Montgomery County, Alabama, and Sam Cochran of Mobile County, Alabama, along with their respective staffs, went above and beyond the call of duty to assist us.

“This is yet another example of the excellent law enforcement partnerships we have with other Sheriff’s Offices. They always stand ready to assist us, just as we always stand ready to assist them.”