by Melissa Martin
City officials are sending their gratitude to neighboring police departments following the June 16 robbery of the Brecksville Dollar Bank branch, located at 7500 Chippewa Road.
Brecksville Police Chief Stan Korinek said the robbery occurred at approximately 11 a.m. and was first reported to dispatchers by an off-duty Broadview Heights police officer who spotted a male suspect quickly leaving the bank in a vehicle driven by a second male.
Within minutes, Independence police officers spotted and began pursuing the suspects’ vehicle on Interstate 77 near Rockside Road and the chase continued onto Interstate 480, where the driver exited the highway at the Transportation Boulevard exit and proceeded to get back onto I-480 west before continuing onto I-77 northbound again.
Reports indicate the chase came to an end when the driver of the vehicle crashed into an Independence police cruiser and another vehicle near the intersection of Lorain Avenue and West 85th Street in Cleveland. At that time, the suspects attempted to flee the area on foot, but officers from the Garfield Heights and Independence police departments apprehended them soon after.
Both men were transported to Metrohealth Medical Center for their injuries and were later booked at the North Royalton Jail.
Police said there were reports of the vehicle hitting other vehicles during the chase, however, none of those individuals required transportation to nearby hospitals for their injuries.
Korinek sends his appreciation to Broadview Heights, Independence and Garfield Heights police, as well as numerous other departments that assisted his department in apprehending the suspects, including Newburgh Heights and Cuyahoga Heights.
Brecksville Mayor Jerry Hruby echoed his sentiments, also expressing his appreciation to Brecksville officers who worked to apprehend the suspect.
“I say this over and over again about our safety forces. Day after day, they do their jobs. But when something happens they really do their jobs and are just outstanding,” he said, noting that he’s received much feedback from the community since the robbery from residents who expressed their relief that the suspects were apprehended and will be brought to justice.
Hruby said he believes it may be possible that the suspect were involved in other incidents throughout the greater Cleveland area.
“This bank robbery was almost predictable,” he said. “It’s quite possible these two individuals were here before to possibly do the same thing at a different bank but the bank was not open.”
Hruby said local police have been “extremely vigilant” in watching area banks in recent months.
“It’s been interesting to see (as part of the investigation) how some of these banks already had police their hired by [the individual banks] to guard their businesses,” he said.
The suspects have since been identified as 21-year-old Romelle Smith of Euclid and 22-year-old Jivaughnte Johnson of Cleveland.
Court records show both suspects have extensive criminal histories and have been bound over to the Cuyahoga County Jail on a $150,000 bail in anticipation of a July 7 Cuyahoga County Grand Jury indictment.
Among the charges the pair is facing are aggravated robbery, kidnapping, complicity and possession of a weapon under a disability.
No further details surrounding the case, including the amount of money stolen, have not been released. ∞