- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2009

GLADSTONE, N.D. (AP) | Residents in this tiny North Dakota town were jarred from their sleep with calls from authorities - Lock your doors.

Police were trying to capture suspects in a video store robbery who turned out to be four people wanted in an Alabama prison break. The suspects had holed up in a garage and held off authorities for more than 14 hours Saturday before two of them surrendered and two were wounded in a shootout with police.

“We do have some excitement around here every once in a while, and this is one of those times,” said Lillian Bondell, tending her garden with her husband Ben on Sunday in Gladstone. “It’s not usually a lively town.”

Authorities on Saturday cordoned off the community of about 200 along Interstate 94, about 85 miles west of Bismarck. About 40 officers had surrounded a ranch where two prison escapees and two women accused of helping them had made their stand against police. Police also warned residents to lock up, in a place that usually doesn’t worry about security.

“I locked the doors and turned out the lights and made ourselves as inconspicuous as I could. My husband stayed in bed,” Mrs. Bondell said.

Joshua Southwick, 26, and Ashton Mink, 22, had escaped nearly two weeks ago from the Perry County Detention Center in Uniontown, Ala., and had eluded officers in at least seven states, authorities said. With them were Mink’s sister, Angela, 25, and his wife, Jacquelin, 25.

Authorities said officers were preparing to use tear gas on the detached garage about 2:25 p.m., when Southwick and Miss Mink walked out and were arrested. Mink and his wife ran out the back of the building, and gunfire was exchanged. Authorities said the two were wounded but their conditions were not released.

Authorities at first thought they were dealing with suspects in a video store robbery in nearby Dickinson until a license plate check of the car they were chasing revealed the suspects were also prison escapees.

Stark County Prosecutor Tom Henning said he expects to file robbery, attempted murder and conspiracy charges against them Monday.

A Highway Patrol trooper chased the robbery suspects’ car toward Gladstone at speeds up to 100 mph, Mr. Henning and Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said. Shots were fired at the Highway Patrol trooper’s windshield, but he was not hurt.

A rancher in Gladstone called soon afterward to report someone was in his garage, which was about 50 feet from his home.

“We put two and two together,” Sheriff Tuhy said.

The rancher and his family got out of the house.

Mr. Henning said a rifle, handguns and camping equipment were found in the suspects’ car. Authorities used a robot to take a cell phone and cigarettes to the suspects. Later, “two of them gave up and two of them came out the side door shooting,” Sheriff Tuhy said.

“Everybody is glad it turned out the way it did. Fortunately, no officers or the public were hurt. Unfortunately, two people were shot, and that’s just part of our job. What are you going to do?” the sheriff said.

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