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Woodbury robbery attempt ends with fatal self-inflicted gunshot

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Woodbury robbery attempt ends with fatal self-inflicted gunshot
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

WOODBURY, Minn. -- A deadly robbery attempt Saturday morning in Woodbury might have ended differently, were it not for the presence of a Woodbury patrol officer and an alert worker.

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According to Woodbury police, an armed man tried to rob Johnson Jewelers in a Radio Drive shopping center but ended up turning the gun on himself.

Woodbury detectives continued to search for an alleged accomplice. A Woodbury Public Safety Department release said police were looking for a man driving a blue four-door Chevrolet Impala bearing the license plates 621 NAV.

Steven Robert Johnson, a watchmaker at Johnson Jewelers, said the robber came into the shop at 9:20 a.m., drew a handgun and demanded keys for the jewelry showcase.

“I knew immediately, as soon as he walked in, that I was now under attack,” Johnson said.

The robber placed numerous diamonds in a bag, but Johnson said he appeared to be calm as he ordered him around the shop.

“He was calm and he knew what he was doing,” Johnson said.

The robber’s entrance was witnessed by Johnson Jewelers employee Kristen Meyer, who was headed back to the store after walking to the Holiday Station Store across the parking lot. Johnson said Meyer sensed an urgency in the man’s approach to the store.

Johnson said Meyer flagged down a Woodbury police officer who happened to be patrolling the lot.

That officer took up a position on foot next to the store and drew his gun, Johnson explained. He said the robber and the officer spotted each other and “everything changed.”

“He panicked,” Johnson said of the robber, who he described as wearing a dreadlock-adorned “Rasta” hat as a disguise.

Johnson said he directed the robber to leave through the back door. The robber went that way, but Johnson never heard the back door open or shut.

Then he heard a single gunshot.

“I waited 30 seconds and then ran out the front,” Johnson said.

Police did not release the robber’s name, but described him as a black man in his mid-50s. No one else was injured during the incident.

Johnson credited the awareness of Meyer and the quick response by the police officer.

“The fact that I’m alive is testament to the actions of the Woodbury police,” Johnson said.

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Mike Longaecker
Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker
(715) 426-1072
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