Cops: 1 arrested, 1 at large after robbery of painter at Johns Creek Panera

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Suspects tied up contractor in restaurant, stole his truck, police say

A quiet after-hours painting job at a Johns Creek Panera on Thursday night turned into a terrifying ordeal for a lone contractor when two would-be burglars broke into the restaurant and robbed him after failing to steal the business’ safe, police said.

After tying up the contractor and stealing his truck and wallet, the two suspects split up, Johns Creek police spokesman Capt. Todd Hood said. One escaped in a separate car, but the other was found driving the contractor’s truck in Dunwoody.

Dunwoody police attempted to perform a traffic stop on the stolen truck, but the suspect sped away, department spokesman Sgt. Michael Cheek said. The driver crashed soon after and was taken into custody without incident.

He was identified as 20-year-old Roderick McLaughlin of McDonough, Hood said. He was booked into the Fulton County Jail on charges of armed robbery, burglary, theft by taking a motor vehicle and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. McLaughlin remains in the Fulton jail without bond, according to online records.

The incident began just before 11:30 p.m. at a Panera location on Medlock Bridge Road, Hood said. The painter, who was not publicly identified, was working alone in the restaurant when McLaughlin and his alleged accomplice entered the building, according to Hood.

The suspects tied up the painter and attempted to steal the safe, Hood said. When they were unsuccessful, police said they stole the man’s wallet and truck.

According to Hood, McLaughlin was driving the stolen truck and the second suspect was seen driving a different car, but police could not get a description of that second vehicle.

Johns Creek police requested neighboring agencies be on the lookout for the stolen truck just after midnight, according to Cheek. Shortly after getting the alert, a Dunwoody officer spotted the car and a chase ensued.

After a brief pursuit, McLaughlin crashed the stolen truck and was arrested, Cheek said. He was transferred back into the custody of Johns Creek police and booked into jail.

The investigation remains ongoing, Johns Creek police said, and detectives are still working to gather details about the second suspect and the second vehicle.

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