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Driver in fatal chase, crash was 17

The driver in a fatal high-speed chase that began in Tampa and ended in downtown St. Petersburg was a 17-year-old from Orlando with a lengthy criminal record.

His mother, Angela Rodney, was killed in the crash and also had a long criminal history, including drug possession and robbery.

Tampa police arrested driver Junior Rodney on charges of armed robbery and aggravated fleeing, police said. He is being held in the Juvenile Assessment Center in St. Petersburg.

He also faces charges in St. Petersburg for leaving the scene of a crash involving a death and vehicular homicide, said police spokesman George Kajtsa.

Angela Rodney, 36, had to be extricated from the crumpled vehicle that crashed into a utility pole at Fourth Avenue N and First Street. She later died at Bayfront Medical Center, police said.

Police continue to search for a third person who was in the car when it crashed.

"Hopefully we'll be arresting him soon," said Tampa police spokeswoman Andrea Davis, who declined to provide details of the suspect's description.

All of the suspects are from Orlando, police said.

The incident began about 10:14 p.m. when three people in the vehicle robbed a man at gunpoint at a Marathon gas station at 2601 W Kennedy Blvd.

The victim, Deandre Moore, was heading into the gas station for a drink when a white 2008 Chevy Impala drove up beside him. An armed man in the passenger side raised a gun at Moore and demanded his money. "I thought they were going to kill me" said Moore, 21.

Moore handed over his wallet, the robbers left and he called 911.

At 10:22 p.m., Tampa police began pursuing the car near Lois Avenue and Interstate 275. The car sped away on the interstate with officers in pursuit. Someone in the car threw the victim's wallet — as well as a short-barreled shotgun, mask and gloves — out of the window, police said.

At times the chase reached 120 mph and included a Tampa police helicopter.

At 10:26 p.m., St. Petersburg police were alerted that the chase was crossing into Pinellas County and headed toward Fourth Street, Kajtsa said. Tampa officials called off the pursuit, while the helicopter continued.

St. Petersburg police did not get involved with the pursuit until after the crash, Kajtsa said.

"A St. Petersburg canine officer in the area saw a flash coming from downtown," said Kajtsa, adding that another canine unit was dispatched. "He went down to see what it was and it turned out to be the wrecked car."

Few details emerged about suspects involved or what they were doing in Tampa.

Junior Rodney's first arrest was at 13. His last was Aug. 5, when he was charged with larceny.

Angela Rodney's occupation is listed as a carpenter, according to state law enforcement records. She has more than a dozen arrest dating back to 1987. Her latest was on June 5, when she was arrested for robbery and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Casey Cora and Luis Perez contributed to this report. Nicole Hutcheson can be reached at nhutcheson@sptimes.com or (727)893-8828.

Driver in fatal chase, crash was 17 09/08/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 10, 2008 11:08am]
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