METAIRIE, LA (WVUE) - A suspect was arrested Wednesday in connection with the theft of $60,000 worth of merchandise from a men's clothing store in Metairie, according to Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joseph Lopinto.
George Simon, 36, of Laplace, along with his stepson, Taj Boatmon, were taken into custody. Simon faces charges in the armed robbery that occurred at about 10 a.m. in the 3100 block of Severn Avenue. Boatmon faces charges in connection with the police pursuit that occurred hours later as police were trying to apprehend them. Another man, Ron Walker, died after trying to escape police.
Shortly after the business of Jeff's Haberdashery opened, two male subjects entered the business, one armed with what was described as an "assault-style" rifle. After confronting the two employees and a customer in the store, the males removed a significant amount of high-end merchandise, Lopinto said. They made several trips between their vehicle and the store, then fled.
Later Wednesday afternoon, JPSO detectives received a Crimestoppers tip that led police to identify Simon as one of the perpetrators. One of the victims then positively identified Simon, and a warrant was obtained for his arrest.
The investigation indicated that Simon lived on West Oak Point Drive in Laplace. At the request of JPSO, members of the U.S. Marshals-New Orleans Field Office set up a surveillance on the location.
Around 7 p.m., Lopinto said Simon was seen getting into an Infiniti with two other males. Deputies from the St. John Parish Sheriff's Office and the Marshals Office tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver refused and a pursuit followed. Police said the suspects sped through the residential neighborhood, and at one point made a U-turn in the parking lot of a gas station, where they blew a tire. The car continued to drive on a rim, sometimes travelling at speeds of up to 100 mph and against traffic.
The Infinity finally crashed on Interstate 10 near US 51, and all three suspects jumped about 30 feet from an elevated portion of the roadway to escape police. All three were eventually captured. Walker, age 53, died at the hospital from injuries sustained in the jump from the bridge. Boatman remains in the custody of the St. John Parish Sheriff's Office for charges related to the vehicle pursuit and subsequent flight on foot.
The Infiniti was towed to the St. John Parish Sheriff's Office for processing.
A search warrant was obtained for Simon's home. Lopinto said investigators located an "AK-style" pistol grip rifle in Simon's bedroom closet. The rifle was equipped with a high-capacity magazine and 29 live 5.56mm rounds. Also recovered in the closet were a number of clothing items, including shoes, shirts, and pants, all of which still had tags on them from Jeff's Haberdashery.
Simon was treated at a local hospital for injuries he sustained during the jump, and eventually released into the custody of the St. John Parish Sheriff's Office.
On Thursday Simon was interviewed about the incident. Lopinto said he admitted his involvement and identified Walker as the second suspect in the robbery.
A search warrant was executed on the Infiniti, where about 75% of the stolen property was recovered.