A 53-year-old Kenner man who was suspected of robbing an upscale menswear store in Metairie on Wednesday was killed later in the day after jumping off a bridge as deputies pursued him and two other men, according to authorities.
That man, Ron Walker, was a suspect in the robbery of Jeff's Haberdashery, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto said Thursday.
Deputies arrested a second suspect in the robbery, 36-year-old George Simon, at the end of the car chase in St. John the Baptist Parish.
Personnel at the store had recognized Simon as a regular customer over the years, and he had a history of stealing from businesses, Lopinto said. He faces several counts including armed robbery.
Simon's stepson, Tahjavon Boatman, 20, also was in the car deputies were pursuing. Deputies jailed him on allegations of running from police, but they do not suspect him of participating in the robbery.
A pair of men wielding a military-style rifle burst into a men's clothing store in Metairie late Wednesday morning and stole upscale shirts, s…
Simon and Boatman survived the same 30-foot leap off the Interstate 10 bridge that cost Walker his life.
The robbery at Jeff's Haberdashery, 3321 Severn Ave., occurred about 10 a.m. Wednesday. The two robbers, one of whom carried a rifle resembling an AK-47, forced a customer and two employees to lie on the floor while they picked out shirts, shoes and jeans from upscale brands, Lopinto said.
The store estimated that the robbers grabbed as much as $60,000 in merchandise before fleeing.
With the help of a tip to Crimestoppers, deputies soon determined that Simon was staying at a home in a cul-de-sac in Belle Terre's Live Oak Landing, St. John Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre said.
St. John deputies began monitoring the home at the request of Jefferson authorities, who had obtained a warrant to arrest Simon. Deputies saw him get into a black Infiniti with two other people and leave.
Several St. John deputies pulled the Infiniti over, surrounding it as the lights on their cruisers flashed. But the driver sped off, kicking off a wild pursuit, Tregre said.
Tregre said the Infiniti took St. Andrews Boulevard to Belle Terre Boulevard, sideswiping one bystander's car. The driver turned left as if he were going to head toward West Airline Highway but then immediately cut right into a Belle Terre gas station called the Corner Store, where deputies tried to box the vehicle in.
But the Infiniti managed to elude the trap, plowing through vacant property nearby to get back on Belle Terre and head north toward Interstate 10. Tregre said the driver veered into the oncoming traffic lanes before reaching eastbound I-10, with deputies pursuing him.
Tregre said the Infiniti reached speeds of about 100 mph on I-10, where deputies were waiting near the exit for U.S. 51.
But eventually, an earlier motorcycle crash in the area slowed up traffic, prompting the Infiniti to drive onto the roadway's shoulder.
The Infiniti then crashed into at least two cars as well as the back of an 18-wheeler, and the three people inside got out and jumped over the elevated roadway's railing to the ground below.
Deputies captured Boatman and Simon underneath the highway before they could escape. As they approached Walker, deputies noticed he was badly hurt, Tregre said. They drove him to a hospital, but he died there.
Tregre said the consequences for Walker and Simon were of their own doing. "These guys were not going to stop at all," he said. "We gave them every opportunity to surrender."
Attempts to contact the suspects' families on Thursday were not successful.
Lopinto said investigators later obtained a confession from Simon that outlined his and Walker's roles in the hold-up. While searching Simon's home and car, he said, they found the rifle used in the robbery as well as most of the colorful shirts, shoes and jeans that were stolen.
The rifle had 29 bullets in it, Tregre said.
Wednesday was not the first time Simon had been suspected of stealing from a store in Metairie, court records show.
He pleaded guilty to charges that he tucked two pairs of sunglasses worth $680 into his waistband in May 2014 and tried to walk out with them at Solstice Sunglasses at Lakeside Mall; the mall is across the street from Jeff's Haberdashery. A deputy providing security at the mall stopped him, and he eventually received a two-year sentence.
He received a similar sentence after admitting he took two motorcycle tires off the shelf of D&L Powersports in Harvey and tried to leave without paying in 2009.
His most serious conviction came after he was arrested in 2000 on counts of armed robbery, attempted armed robbery and attempted murder. He pleaded guilty to attempted murder and received a 10-year prison sentence.
Authorities in St. Bernard Parish charged him last year with unauthorized use of a movable, careless operation of a car and driving without a license or license plates. He pleaded guilty in May and was given two years in prison with credit for time served.
Walker also had a history of theft. He spent four years in prison after he pleaded guilty to that crime in New Orleans in 1997 and prosecutors moved to have him punished as a repeat offender.
Other convictions, in Jefferson Parish, include domestic abuse, marijuana possession, aggravated flight from police and driving without a license.
Can't see the video below? Click here.