PIQUA — Robert Riddle, of Piqua, is in custody following an armed robbery and manhunt that lasted for nearly four hours on Saturday.
Police were called to the parking lot at Walmart on East Ash Street just before 3 p.m. on the report of an armed robbery.
Within 30 minutes, officers working on leads in the case received information that their suspect was at a local trailer park. Police and deputies responded to Paris Court at 10220 North County Road 25-A, Trailer 18, and located Riddle. After speaking with Riddle, he was taken into custody and transported the Piqua Police Department for questioning.
After the initial report, officers arrived at Walmart to find a female victim in the parking lot. Witnesses told officers that a man and approached her, displayed a handgun and told her that she was “going to be taking him away,” according to Deputy Chief Marty Grove of the Piqua Police Department.
The woman, age 67, refused to cooperate with the gunman and the two began to struggle. The commotion attracted the attention of bystanders and several rushed to her assistance.
Riddle allegedly then fled the scene and was last spotted running east in the direction of the Willowbrook Land Lab, where he disappeared into the wooded area.
A witness, who chose to not be identified said, “Right after he assaulted the woman, I didn’t see the actual assault, I was sitting in my car and I saw him run behind me. I saw him run back behind the car wash.”
Grove said that Piqua officers, along with assistance from the Miami County Sheriff’s Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and a K9 unit from the Tipp City Police Department, set up a perimeter around the area of Walmart and Willowbrook.
A search of the Willowbrook area by the K9 unit led officers to a building that had apparently been broken into by the suspect, but he was no longer there.
There were several reported sightings of a suspect, based on his description. Grove said, “During the course of the search, witnesses believed they observed a person matching the suspects description enter Walmart.” Officers searched the store with the help of Walmart management, who Grove said did an excellent job at assuring customer safety.
Piqua police requested air search assistance from the Ohio State Highway Patrol, who dispatched a helicopter from Columbus. The helicopter crew used Forward Look Infrared Radar (FLIR) to search the Walmart area and Willowbrook, as well as the area north to the Paris Court Trailer Park, where information on the robbery was leading police to believe that a suspect may be located.
Following an air search of more than two hours, the Highway Patrol helicopter was released from the scene and the search called off.
There were no injuries during the incident.
Reach Mike Ullery at (937) 451-3335