A high-speed chase across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway on Saturday night ended with officers firing shots at a man suspected of robbing or trying to rob at least six stores and restaurants in Metairie, Marrero and Kenner in a two-night crime spree, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato said.
The suspect, 26-year-old Ranell Joseph, of Donaldsonville, was not hit by the bullets. He did receive medical attention after crashing into an unoccupied Causeway police car, but the injuries did not appear to be serious, Fortunato said.
The incident started about 11 p.m. Saturday when authorities received a call about a robbery at the Circle K store at 330 Veterans Memorial Blvd. in Metairie.
A man with his face partially covered reportedly reached into his backpack, implying he had a weapon, and demanded money. After taking the cash drawer from the clerk, he fled.
Investigators with the JPSO and local police departments had been looking for a suspect with the same general description following several robberies and attempted robberies Friday night. Area law enforcement agencies had been informed that the suspect drove a gray or black Dodge Challenger, Fortunato said.
About three minutes after the report of the Circle K robbery was received, patrol officer Joe Marcel spotted a gray Dodge Challenger near Veterans and Causeway Boulevard, Fortunato said. He tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver sped away onto the northbound lanes of the Causeway.
Causeway police were notified, and a high-speed chase ensued. Police said the Challenger was driving in excess of 100 mph.
Causeway police asked for assistance from the Mandeville Police Department as the Challenger continued northbound across the bridge.
Near the end of the bridge, the Challenger ran over spike strips that had been placed on the roadway. As the car rolled to a stop, Fortunato said, officers approached Joseph, in the car, with their weapons drawn.
Joseph then accelerated toward the officers, prompting them to fire, Fortunato said. The Challenger finally came to a stop after hitting the unoccupied police car.
Fortunato said Joseph was taken to a hospital for treatment Saturday night. By Sunday afternoon, he was booked in connection with six robberies or attempted robberies, including the Saturday night first-degree robbery of the Circle K.
He was booked with armed robbery of a Burger King at 4933 Veterans Blvd. on Friday night, attempted armed robbery of a Popeyes restaurant at 7100 West Bank Expressway in Marrero on Friday night, attempted simple robbery of a Shell station at 6200 West Bank Expressway in Marrero on Friday night and attempted first-degree robbery at the O’Reilly Auto Parts store at 600 Ames Blvd. in Marrero on Friday night. The three Marrero incidents all occurred between 7:44 p.m. and 8:05 p.m.
The suspect in all of the incidents was described as a black male, 20 to 30 years old, between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-10 and weighing between 120 and 160 pounds. According to police, a portion of his face was always concealed with something, and he was often described as carrying a black or black and silver handgun.
On Sunday, Kenner police said Joseph also was booked with first-degree robbery of an Exxon station at 3451 Williams Blvd. in Kenner late Friday night. They said he implied he was armed with a weapon and demanded money, getting about $150.
Joseph remained in custody Sunday afternoon. No bail had been set.