A Missouri man has been charged with committing an armed robbery at a convenience store across the street from the East St. Louis Police Department.
Brandon Cotton, 26, of Florissant, Mo., was charged with armed robbery. He is accused of being armed with a semiautomatic pistol while taking money and cigarillos from the Gas Mart at 306 River Park Drive in East St. Louis. His bail was set at $50,000.
East St. Louis Police Chief Michael Hubbard said the robbery occurred on Valentine’s Day at 9:15 a.m. East St. Louis Detective Ronald McClellan was in his second-floor office inside of City Hall, finishing up a police report from the shift he had worked the night before.
“We received a panic alarm from ADT. It was a holdup alarm. Less than a minute later, we received a call from a citizen reporting that the gas station was being robbed. The dispatcher put out a call to all units. I ran out of my office across the street to the station ... and asked the employee there where the suspect was,” McClellan said.
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The employee told McClellan the suspect ran to the back of the building. McClellan followed the suspect in the snow to the rear of the store. There he saw the suspect still wearing something across his face.
“He was picking up money and putting it into a duffel bag,” McClellan said.
“He appeared to have tripped and dropped the money. I yelled, ‘Police!’ He turned and saw me. He left the money that was on the ground and took off running. As he attempted to cross the MetroLink tracks that are behind the gas station, he fell. Suddenly a gun appeared,” McClellan said.
McClellan said he didn’t know if the gun fell or if the suspect pulled it out.
“When he got up he turned towards me. I saw the gun. Fearing for my life, I fired my service weapon,” McClellan said.
When he got up he turned towards me. I saw the gun. Fearing for my life, I fired my service weapon.
East St. Louis Detective Ronald McClellan
McClellan was still some distance away from the suspect. He said he did not strike him.
“He jumped up and fled on foot and went underneath the highway and out of my line of vision behind a concrete pillar that is there,” McClellan said.
The suspect had parked a vehicle bearing Missouri license plates under the highway.
McClellan yelled for him to stop. The suspect turned to face McClellan with the weapon in his hand. Again, McClellan fired his service pistol in the suspect’s direction, striking his vehicle.
“He crashed his vehicle into a wall on the entry ramp and escaped into St. Louis,” McClellan said.
While East St. Louis put out a radio broadcast, the suspect used his cell phone to call St. Louis police to report that he had been shot at in East St. Louis, according to McClellan.
“He said the person who shot at him ran him off of the road,” McClellan said.
The suspect was taken into custody in St. Louis. In his vehicle, police found three guns, including one taken from the convenience store during, and a duffel bag containing money.