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Suspect charged in armed robbery

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

A Rex teenager is being held without bond in the Henry County Jail, charged with robbing a store employee at gunpoint in a Stockbridge store's parking lot.

The suspected robber shot himself in the leg while trying to flee the scene, police said.

Theodore Jerome Belcher, 19, now faces charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault, according to police.

The incident took place at 1:10 a.m., Sunday, outside the Garden Ridge store at 5000 Mt. Zion Parkway, in Stockbridge.

Henry County Police Capt. Jason Bolton said the victim, Karl Smith, told police Belcher robbed him at gunpoint.

"The suspect took Mr. Smith's wallet and mobile phone," Bolton said. "The suspect then ran towards Mt. Zion Parkway, to the Clayton County line."

Bolton said some of Smith's co-workers in the area rode in a vehicle through the parking lot, in an attempt to catch Belcher. The suspect, added the captain, fired a semi-automatic handgun at the co-workers.

Police said the altercation then took a turn for the worse for Belcher, just before Officers John Mathis and Kelly Horne arrived at the scene.

"During the course of [the gunfire], the suspect shot himself in the left thigh area," said Bolton. "[Mathis and Horne] detained the suspect ... just before the Clayton County line."

Belcher was positively identified at the scene as the offender, and was treated at Henry Medical Center for his gunshot wound, Bolton said.

Belcher was taken to the Henry County Jail. He appeared in Henry County Magistrate Court Monday, represented by an attorney from the Public Defender's Office. He waived his right to a preliminary hearing on the charges against him.

Chief Magistrate Judge Robert Godwin bound the case over to Superior Court, where the issue of bond will be decided at a later date.

Public Defender Gary Bowman said his office is still investigating the charges against his client. Bowman declined to comment further on the case.