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Three robbery suspects arrested after chase in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — An armed robbery at a tobacco shop Thursday led to a dramatic police chase in which officers shot at a getaway car driven by the suspects, authorities said.

One suspect was shot in the leg but was expected to survive. No officers were injured.

Three people were in custody Thursday night.

Initial reports were that two men and a youth walked into the Scorpion Tobacco, 1116 34th St. N, about 6:45 p.m. and demanded money from the store's employees, police spokesman Bill Proffitt said. One man served as a lookout while the other two robbed the store.

During the robbery, one store employee phoned a friend who called 911 to report what was happening, Proffitt said.

Officers arrived within minutes and approached the store. As they did, two men ran out the back entrance and hopped into a Nissan Altima belonging to one of the store's employees, police said. The men crashed into another car as they drove south on 34th Street. The officers got back in their cars and pursued.

Near the 400 block of 34th Street N, a passenger in the Altima flashed what looked like a long-barreled shotgun out the window, prompting officers to fire at the car, police said.

The Altima then crashed into a nearby police cruiser, where an officer had been investigating an unrelated traffic crash, police said. After the crash, officers fired a second volley of gunshots as they approached the disabled car and arrested the two suspects.

The passenger in the Altima was treated for a gunshot wound to the leg, police said. The wound was not life-threatening.

The third suspect, who was left behind at the tobacco shop, was also later arrested, police said. Police did not release the names of the three suspects late Thursday night.

Police closed a portion of 34th Street N for several hours as detectives investigated.

Three robbery suspects arrested after chase in St. Petersburg 07/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, July 5, 2012 10:51pm]

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