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Armed Iraq veteran foils motel robbery

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

For the second time this year, an armed robber trying to hold up the Savannah Suites in Jonesboro has met with resistance from a military veteran willing to fight back.

A man walked into the lobby of the extended-stay motel at 8240 Tara Boulevard early Monday morning, according to Detective Sgt. Tim Jessup with the Jonesboro Police Department.

"He had a wig on," Jessup said. "A redish-blondish, female-type wig."

The man threw an open trash bag on the counter and told the clerk to "fill it up," according to Jessup.

The clerk refused, making the man in the wig do it himself.

The armed robber got away with about $275, but was then chased by another Savannah Suites employee, a man who has just returned from military service in Iraq.

"The perpetrator turned and brandished a weapon. The employee -- who has permit to carry -- pulled a handgun and fired a round off at him," the detective said.

The man was uninjured, but dropped the bag of money and ran.

Jessup reported that he was following "strong leads" on Monday afternoon, and had a photo of a suspect and was hoping witness identifications would clear up a number of crimes.

One of those crimes was an earlier hold-up at the Savannah Suites, in March.

On a Friday morning, March 21, a man walked into the front office, pulled a gun and demanded money, according to police. When he pulled the gun out, though, "the bullet clip fell out of the bottom," and the clerk, Roger Vicks, a retired Marine, attacked the man.

Vicks didn't have a gun, but threw a lamp at the would-be robber. The two fought, leaving the scene "looking like a tornado had come through that office."

The robber reloaded, though, and shot Vicks a number of times, sending him to the hospital.

When Vicks was carried away by paramedics, he reportedly said: "The [expletive] didn't get away with anything."

It is not clear if the Savannah Suites has a policy of hiring ex-military men, but Jessup said the two cases show employers "can't go wrong with military folks."

The March robber has not been apprehended and has a roughly similar witness description as Monday's robber: tall, young, skinny, black male.

"I can tell you I'm following a really solid lead and, hopefully, with this photo line-up, I'll be able to clear some cases up," Jessup said.