Two armed robbery suspects are behind bars thanks to the “brave and courageous” efforts of two Raleigh County sheriff’s deputies, Sheriff Steve Tanner announced Tuesday at a press conference held at the Sheriff’s Office on South Eisenhower Drive.
Thomas Lequay Robertson, 21, and David Pfost, 25, both of Beckley, were arrested and charged with armed robbery and conspiracy after robbing the Little General store on South Eisenhower Drive Monday night. Both men were remanded to Southern Regional Jail where they remain on bonds of $100,000 each.
“The Little General Store across the street has been robbed several times. Although it is in the City of Beckley, I have taken a little heat, in a joking manner, that they keep robbing the building right next to the Sheriff’s Office and they always get away,” Tanner explained.
But not this time, he proudly added.
According to Tanner, Deputy M.P. Gunther and Lt. K.R. Hopkins were responsible for apprehending the armed and dangerous suspects just moments after the robbery and fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of money.
It was a circumstance of chance since Gunther decided to step outside the building for a break, and witnessed the two men running from the store, he explained.
“I just had a feeling that something wasn’t right, so after alerting Hopkins, I went over to the store and asked if they had just been robbed. The cashier nodded yes, as he was on the phone with 911 reporting the incident, and that is when our foot pursuit began.”
Hopkins went down one side of the building while Gunther went down the other side, Tanner said.
“So we immediately had, regardless of who caught up to the suspects first, a two on one situation,” he explained.
“These two guys — without any hesitation or consideration for their own safety — called it in and began a foot pursuit to run the two suspects down. They were able to catch the men who had committed the robbery, disarm them without incident, and took them into custody,” he continued.
“I thought what they did was exceptionally brave and I wanted the public to know just how professional these guys are, and what they are willing to risk,” Tanner added.
Both suspects were armed, Tanner said. One man had a semi-automatic 380 caliber pistol, and the other was armed with a semi-automatic nine millimeter.
Robertson, who had a criminal history, IS probation for a past conviction of armed robbery in Beckley, Tanner explained.
“One of the guns had been reported stolen and we will run the other gun down because it was a Browning high power — a $900 pistol — not something commonly used in a robbery. I bet if we run gun this down, we will find some history on it as well,” Tanner said.
Although Gunther and Hopkins received accolades from Tanner, Gunther modestly replied after being asked how he felt knowing he was the responsible for removing two violent criminals from the street, “Accomplished. I’ve done my job and I did it correctly.”
Gunther said while in pursuit of the suspects, “The danger crossed my mind because I knew they were armed, but I knew that I also had the upper hand because of my training and experience.”
Gunther apprehended Robertson while Hopkins apprehended Pfost, he explained.
“As I cuffed Robertson, I asked him if he had anything else in his possession,” Gunther explained. “He said ‘Yes, all the money’ and his pockets were stuffed with wads of money taken from the cash register.”
Police successfully recovered the stolen money.
“The pursuit happened within 30 seconds after the suspects exited the building and we had the suspects in custody within a few minutes after they committed the robbery,” Tanner explained. “So by the time the city realized there was an armed robbery, and were responding to assist us, we were already handcuffing the suspects.”