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Man killed in Warrior may be connected to holdup in Decatur

By Seth Burkett 340-2355

Police on Wednesday remained uncertain whether a suspect shot and killed by Warrior police was the same man who robbed a Dollar General Store in Decatur last week.

The suspect killed Tuesday night may be responsible for as many as 20 holdups at Dollar General and Family Dollar stores over the last few months in Jefferson and Shelby counties, authorities said Wednesday.

Michael L. Robertson, 38, was fatally shot by a police officer after he tried to run over an officer responding to a robbery at the town's Dollar General, police said.

Robertson's death remained under investigation Wednesday by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

Decatur police acknowledged similarities between the crimes in the Birmingham area and the robbery Friday night, during which the robber hid inside the Dollar General at 1000 Beltline Road S.W. until closing time, then held up employees as they counted money after locking the store. But police Sgt. Rick Archer said investigators have not concluded the crimes are connected.

"It's a very good possibility, but again, we're going to keep all our options open," Archer said. "Until we know definitively, we're not going to stop our investigation. As far as I'm concerned, the offender is still on the loose until we find out otherwise. We haven't overlooked the fact that there are numerous similarities in the robberies."

The series of robberies that began in October prompted a $4,500 reward and drew the involvement of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Marshals Service.

David Hyche, a supervisor with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives office in Birmingham, told The Birmingham News that ballistics tests will be run on a .44 Magnum handgun dropped by Robertson to see if it can be linked to robberies at stores in Birmingham, Pelham, Trussville, Leeds and elsewhere.

One employee at a Pelham store was shot during a robbery Feb. 22.

Wearing a red bandanna, the gunman who held up the Beltline store forced employees to put cash into a red pillowcase. With the pillowcase inside a large Dollar General bag, he exited through a rear door, Decatur police said.

According to a police report, the robber told the employees he would shoot only if he did not get what he wanted, if they tried to fight him or if the police arrived before he could leave.

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