Crime

Robbery turns deadly after suspect killed during high-speed chase near Murphys

One man is dead and at least one person was badly hurt during what authorities are calling "an organized and pre-planned" robbery outside Murphys.

Four suspects have been arrested and, as of Monday morning, two others were sought.

The armed robbery at a residence on the 4000 block of French Gulch Road was reported to the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office at about 6:45 p.m. The caller said several black and "Middle-Eastern" men fled with cash, marijuana, a white van and expensive personal property.

There were six victims in the case, the Sheriff's Office reported. The victims reportedly were bound and threatened, a news release said, "and in some cases, individual victims were beaten and tortured with a taser and received death threats."

One victim with severe injuries was taken to Mark Twain Hospital in San Andreas and later moved to another hospital outside the area. Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Rachelle Whiting said one other victim may have required medical treatment.

The death was of a man who is believed to have been a member of the robbery crew, Whiting said. It occurred during a vehicle pursuit.

A deputy patrolling Valley Springs spotted a group of vehicles that matched the descriptions of those used in the robbery. The deputy tried to pull over a black Range Rover, but the driver sped off.

A California Highway Patrol officer joined the pursuit westbound on Highway 12 near Double Springs Road. While the Range Rover still was at high speed, a black male adult "exited the vehicle," the news release says.

Whether the man jumped or was pushed is part of the investigation, Whiting said. He suffered injuries consistent with hitting the ground after leaving the vehicle, she said, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Official cause of death will be determined by autopsy.

Evidence from the robbery was located near the man's body on the side of the highway.

The man is thought to have been the driver, Whiting said, because the Range Rover quickly left the roadway and struck some small trees and a fence. When it stopped, two other black males fled on foot.

With help from the California Highway Patrol and Angels Camp police, a search perimeter was set up. A Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department helicopter crew also helped with the search. Near where the Range Rover crashed, an Angels Camp police K9 found the two men who fled hiding in a brushy area.

Other deputies who responded to the pursuit located the stolen white van that had been traveling in front of the Range Rover. They stopped it, arrested two more black males and located a large amount of evidence inside that tied the men to the robbery, the news release said.

The four men arrested and booked into the Calaveras County Jail are Mark Noble, 32, of Lincolnwood, Illinois; Dontia Arrington, 38, of Spokie, Illinois; Talia Khio, 41, of Roseville; and Roddy Johnson, 29, of San Diego.

They face charges including armed robbery, conspiracy, assault with a deadly weapon, felony battery with great bodily injury, kidnapping, false imprisonment and torture. Because of the death of the Range Rover occupant, Sheriff's Office says it will review possible homicide charges with the District Attorney’s Office.

The two males still sought were described as speaking a foreign language during the robbery. They are the pair originally described as Middle Eastern, the Sheriff's Office says, and may have been speaking Armenian. No information was available Monday on the vehicle they used.

Anyone with information on the case is urged to call the Calaveras County Sheriff's Office at 209-754-6500.

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