Convicts caughtThe crime spree of an Alabama murderer and his three accomplices ended Saturday afternoon at a farmstead south of Gladstone.
By: Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press
The crime spree of an Alabama murderer and his three accomplices ended Saturday afternoon at a farmstead south of Gladstone.
A nearly 15-hour chase and standoff between the fugitives and law enforcement ended at approximately 2:25 p.m., leaving two suspects wounded and two in custody.
Law enforcement officials say they believe Joshua Southwick, 26, and Ashton Mink, 22, escaped from the Perry County Detention Center in Uniontown, Ala., on May 25.
Authorities say 25-year-old Angela Diana Mink, Ashton Mink’s sister, and 25-year-old Jacquelin Rae Kennamer Mink, Ashton Mink’s wife, helped the men escape.
A federal law enforcement official who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter said the four were taken into custody after a long standoff with law enforcement officials in a garage at a farmstead approximately six miles south of Gladstone.
Two of the suspects are believed to have entered Movie Gallery located on Third Avenue West in Dickinson at about 11 p.m. Friday, where they held two employees at gunpoint and asked for money.
Robbers attempted to tie up both employees, and were successful in tying one up. No injuries were reported.
A spokesperson for Movie Gallery declined to comment and Movie Gallery corporate public relations could not be reached.
Lt. Rod Banyai of the Dickinson Police Department said Dickinson police officials were notified about the robbery through a 911 call.
“The suspects fled the scene before the Dickinson Police Department could arrive,” Banyai said during a press conference held Saturday afternoon. “An undetermined amount of money was taken. Weapons were involved in the robbery.”
Officials declined to comment on any other store damage or which of the suspects were in the store during the time of the robbery.
While leaving town on exit 61 and traveling east on Interstate 94, a state highway patrol officer noticed a pewter-colored 2000 GMC Jimmy with Alabama license plates, traveling at more than 100 miles per hour. While attempting to pull the vehicle over, the suspects fired shots at the officer.
“At least one shot went through the windshield of the vehicle on the passenger side,” said Capt. Tony Huck, North Dakota Highway Patrol. “After that, the vehicle proceeded to the Gladstone exit, and when it exited it went into Gladstone and at some point the trooper lost contact with the vehicle.”
The trooper following the suspects did not return fire, Huck said.
Officials believe the suspects left the vehicle then entered a detached garage at the residence, where the house’s occupants reported a suspicious disturbance to their horses, Henning said.
“Shortly thereafter they (the house occupants) were evacuated after it was determined they (the suspects) were in the garage,” said Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy. “I couldn’t really say if they were really in any immediate danger.”
Officials declined to release the address of the residence or the names of the occupants.
SWAT teams from Dickinson and Bismarck responded to the scene.
“The Dickinson area SWAT team responded and they evaluated the situation at which time the Bismarck SWAT team was notified and they came down to assist,” Tuhy said. “We stayed back and observed and waited until daylight.”
Tuhy said he is not aware of any suspect demands during the standoff.
The suspects were considered armed and dangerous, officials said. Tuhy noted the suspects had both handguns and long rifles.
The suspects were described to be in dark clothing, Henning said.
A surprising end
Unusually cold and snowy weather Saturday made the situation somewhat difficult, Tuhy said. Officers used aircraft to aid in the search for the suspects, he said.
“It hindered aircraft and even responding,” Tuhy said. “The officers were getting wet from the rain and snow; there was a lot of outside work. They (the officers) were getting pretty stressed out and tired, but we tried to accommodate any way we could as far as food and water.”
After about 12 hours, Southwick and Angela Mink walked out and were taken into custody. At the same time, Ashton Mink and Jacquelin Mink ran out the back of the building.
The suspects exited the garage “Bonnie and Clyde style,” Stark County State’s Attorney Tom Henning said.
“They left shooting,” Henning said.
Ashton Mink fired a gun at law enforcement officers and police returned fire and hit him. Jacquelin Mink was also hit, but it was not immediately clear whether it was self-inflicted or a result of police fire.
No other individuals were reported injured, officials said.
Camping equipment and campground receipts were found by officials when the vehicle was searched.
“They had a lot of cash with them as well,” Henning said. “There will be forthcoming charges of robbery, attempted murder and various other offenses. We’re probably looking at conspiracy charges and accomplice charges. These people are in a world of trouble, but the way it sounds two of them already were.”
The fugitives are also listed on America’s Most Wanted Web site, which lists them as fugitives “at large.”
Southwick and Angela Mink are being held in the Southwest Multi-County Correctional Facility in Dickinson until further notice. Henning said it is not clear whether or not the suspects will be expedited back to Alabama to face charges.
As of 4 p.m., officials stated Ashton and Jacquelin Mink were both taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital and Health Center in Dickinson. No information on their condition was given, but officials noted the two were being guarded by law enforcement.
“They’ll be charged and arraigned most likely Monday and from there, we’ll see what happens,” Henning said. “At this point it’s hard to say, it depends on the seriousness of the charges they may have already been incarcerated for.”
Officials say they do not know if drugs and alcohol were involved.
Henning said he could not confirm or deny that the robbery was pre-meditated or that the four had any ties to the area.
A variety of law enforcement agencies were involved in the chase and standoff, including: The Dickinson Police Department, the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Stark County Sheriff’s Department, the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Bismarck Police Department, Bismarck Special Weapons and Tactics and the North Dakota Game and Fish, among others.
“I don’t believe at this time there is any reason for the community to feel unsafe,” Tuhy said. “It was fantastic work by all agencies, we all came together and it came to an end result. Fortunately no one in law enforcement was hurt, unfortunately two people got shot.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this story.