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Bank robbery ends in suicide

A bank robbery in Picayune ended in the death of the suspect when his 13-minute attempt to escape resulted in an automobile accident, following which he used his gun to take his own life.

The robbery of the First National Bank of Picayune branch near exit 6 off of Interstate 59 was reported to Picayune police officers at about 12:55 Wednesday afternoon. Picayune Deputy Police Chief David Ervin said bank employees relayed information to officers concerning the suspect’s clothes, physical description and the vehicle he was driving.

“It was absolutely by the book and perfect in every way,” Ervin said about the teller’s detailed information.

The suspect, later identified as Jonathan D. Dozier of Ocean Springs, did not show a gun during the robbery but did display a note to the teller stating he had a gun and he was robbing the bank.

That same bank branch has been robbed numerous times in the past several years apparently because of its proximity to the interstate.

The Sheriff’s Department became involved when a detective with the department stopped to talk to Rhonda Poche Johnson, a former deputy now working at the Picayune Housing Authority. Johnson told Sheriff’s Department investigator Shane Edgar that she had just heard a call over her scanner about the robbery. Edgar said he called the dispatcher at the sheriff’s office to share the information, which was being relayed to that office at the same time by the Picayune Police Department.

Sheriff’s Department Chief Investigator Shane Tucker said a deputy traveling on Caesar Road saw the vehicle described in a be-on-the-lookout, or BOLO, notice put out over the sheriff’s office radio and turned around to attempt to stop the car. When the deputy gave chase, the suspect sped up. The deputy attempted to get the vehicle to stop by turning on his emergency lights and sirens, but the suspect refused to pull over.

Two other deputies who had information about the path of the vehicle, which was on Bouie Road at the time, were coming from opposite directions in an attempt to stop the vehicle, Sheriff David Alison said.  

“We pretty well had him boxed in,” Alison said.

As the vehicle approached the intersection of Bouie Road and Anchor Lake Road, the driver of the vehicle attempted to turn quickly on to Anchor Lake, missing the turn and ending up in a shallow ditch. When the car came to rest, Tucker said the suspect got out of the vehicle with a gun in his hand. The pursuing deputy ordered the suspect to drop the gun, which the suspect had pointed at himself. Even though the deputy ordered the suspect not to fire, the suspect fired a shot into his own head. Alison said the chase ended at 1:08 p.m.

Pearl River County Coroner Derek Turnage identified the suspect as 41 year-old Jonathan D. Dozier of 123 Station Dr., Ocean Springs. The cause of death has been listed as a self-inflicted gunshot wound, but due to the nature of the crime, an autopsy will be conducted.

As medical and law enforcement personnel pulled Dozier’s body from the ditch, a stack of blood-stained money was still clutched in his hand.

The case has been handed over to the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation due to the death of the suspect. Ervin said anytime a law enforcement officer is involved in a case in which the suspect dies, an outside agency comes in to ensure a clean and clear investigation.

Ervin said he would like to thank the bank employees for their detailed description of the suspect and his car and the Sheriff’s Department for its assistance.

“God put us in the right place at the right time,” Alison said.