published Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Man sought in pharmacy robbery caught

A 38-year-old man who police say threw gasoline on a Dalton, Ga., pharmacy employee so he could get away with stolen drugs and then led police on a nine-day chase was caught Friday.

Police said a man found Michael Roberts hiding in the woods on his Dalton property two days after Roberts had escaped from police for the second time.

On May 29, Dalton Police Department spokesman Bruce Frazier said, a man walked into the Dalton Drug Pharmacy and demanded pain pills. When the pharmacist refused, the man threw gas on her and ran out the store with several bottles of Percocet.

Pharmacist Kerry Plemmons wasn't working when the man burst through the store. But he heard from his employees that they watched him carrying a small container and then rush to the pharmacy counter.

"It was bizarre," he said. "I've been a pharmacist for 40 years, but I've never seen anything like this."

The man got away, but information led police to identify Roberts as the suspect.

He was spotted Wednesday on the roof of Avis Apparel, Frazier said. But Roberts jumped off the roof, about a 20-foot leap, and escaped.

Two days later, he was spotted again. When he tried to run from Whitfield County sheriff's deputies, he got only to the woods near the Red Barn Flea Market before he was caught.

Roberts, who police said apparently had injured his leg in the roof jump, was taken to Hamilton Medical Center for treatment before going to jail.

He was charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault.

Contact staff writer Joy Lukachick at 423-757-6659 or

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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