Editor’s note: Updated with photos of the suspects.
One suspect was in the hospital and three more were in jail after an officer-involved shooting that followed a robbery Friday evening at dollar store on West 28th Avenue.
Pine Bluff Police Department spokesman Lt. David Price said the arrests came after an operation carried out by a carefully organized robbery task force team of officers conducting surveillance at key locations throughout the city in an attempt to catch those responsible for a recent rash of dollar store and gas station robberies. The task force included assistance from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Arkansas State Police.
“We feel confident that these individuals were responsible for the other robberies in Pine Bluff,” Price said.
The suspects were identified as Samuel Freeman, 23, who was the one shot by police; Jerome Pridgeon, 20; Jeffrey Freeman, 20; and Robert Jordan, 22, whom police described as an accomplice.
At about 5:20 p.m. Friday, police received a call that the Family Dollar store at 3000 W. 28th Ave. was being robbed. Members of the task force were already stationed outside the store as part of the surveillance efforts. They saw three people approach the store. One stayed outside and two went inside the business.
In order to avoid a potential hostage situation, the task force officers stayed outside the store, Price said, taking up tactical positions to confront the suspects when they left the store. When the suspects left the building, police confronted them on the east side of the building. One of the suspects — identified by police as Samuel Freeman — allegedly pointed a weapon at the officers and was shot by police.
The other two men fled in a southeasterly direction. Officers had set up a perimeter around the area and those suspects were apprehended after an extensive ground search, Price said.
Samuel Freeman was taken by ambulance to Jefferson Regional Medical Center. His condition was unknown Friday night and he had not been booked into the county jail by noon Saturday.
The names of the officers involved in the shooting are not being released pending a departmental investigation. They have been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is the normal procedure in officer-involved shootings.
The suspects are being held on probable cause of aggravated robbery and theft of property and additional charges may include attempted capital murder and fleeing.
At about 6 p.m. Friday, non-police could be seen leaving the store, including a couple with a baby carrier.
Previous locations robbed include: the Big Red gas station on Olive Street on Wednesday, the Dollar General at 1414 E. Harding Ave. on Monday, the Valero at 2317 W. 28th Ave. on Monday, the Family Dollar Store on Blake Street on Nov. 22 and an Alon gas station on Nov. 23.