A 61-year-old man who police said robbed a Collinsville bank at gunpoint Friday before he was cornered in a wooded arae in East St. Louis appeared to be pacing back and forth for several minutes before he took his own life with a handgun, according to St. Clair County Deputy Coroner Danny Haskenhoff.
Ronald D. Pelate of Caseyville died at the scene, Haskenhoff said. Found next to his body were a pistol and a satchel of cash that contained a hidden GPS device that allowed police to track him.
Surrounded by concealed officers who were as close as 50 feet or so, and monitored on the GPS tracking system that noted even a small movement, Pelate paced under the trees as officers called to him to surrender, according to Haskenhoff.
Pelate, who has a criminal record and served time at Menard Correctional Center in the 1980s for possession of a controlled substance, robbed the UMB Bank at 401 N. Bluff Road around 3 p.m. Friday, police said. Haskenhoff, who was nearby when Pelate’s body was found, said the suspect was dressed in a white T-shirt and blue jeans.
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Illinois State Police Commander Derek Wise said that shortly before committing the robbery, Pelate carjacked a Toyota 4Runner and then fled in that vehicle. After the bank robbery, he fired several shots at pursuing police officers and hit the squad car of at least one, Wise said.
A perimeter of heavily-armed State Police troopers and other police officers was set up in a circle around where the GPS indicated Pelate was trying to hide in the woods near 79th and State streets in East St. Louis. When officers went into the woods to apprehend Pelate, he shot himself, Wise said.
No bank employees or police were injured. The case is being investigated by the State Police and the FBI.