Suspect charged in Huntington Woods bank robbery

By: Jeremy Selweski | Woodward Talk | Published September 21, 2012

A 47-year-old Royal Oak Township man could face up to life in prison if convicted of robbing a bank in Huntington Woods earlier this month.

On Sept. 19, John Azell Jones was arraigned by video in Oak Park 45-B District Court on felony charges of bank robbery and fleeing and eluding police. According to Huntington Woods Detective Lt. Nick Armold, Jones has two more potential charges pending that could emerge at his pre-exam conference, which was scheduled for 1 p.m. Sept. 25. The suspect requested a court-appointed attorney, but one had not yet been assigned to him at press time.

In addition, Judge David Gubow ordered that Jones remain held in Oakland County Jail without bond. Jones had been housed at Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital after being shot by police in a chase following the bank robbery, but he was transferred to the county jail prior to his arraignment.

Armold said that he was not sure of Jones’ specific motive for robbing the Chase Bank at 26363 Woodward Ave. Sept. 10, but said that the suspect has a lengthy criminal history.

“He is currently on parole after serving about 13 years (in prison) for some pretty serious crimes,” Armold said. “I don’t know if he has ever robbed a bank before, but he has been arrested for armed robbery in the past.”

According to the Michigan Offender Tracking Information System, Jones — who sometimes uses the alias Jamal Johnson — was most recently convicted in Macomb County in 1997 of armed robbery, disarming a police officer and resisting and obstructing police. He also has prior convictions for breaking and entering with intent to rob in both Wayne and Oakland counties.

Armold was able to provide some details about the bank robbery that were previously unavailable. He pointed out that around 10:20 a.m., another Chase Bank customer had spotted Jones in the parking lot about to walk inside.

“He saw (Jones) putting on a cap and gloves as he entered the bank,” Armold explained. “The situation looked suspicious, so he kept watching to see if anything else would happen.”

Once inside the bank, Armold said that Jones approached a teller and told her that this was a robbery. “The teller did not see a weapon in his possession,” he stated, “but she said he made threats that he was going to kill her.”

Jones reportedly then ran out of the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash. As Armold noted, “It was pretty quick — he was in and out of there in only a couple of minutes. Our witness said that when (Jones) was exiting the bank, he was actually dropping money all over the vestibule.”

The witness then followed Jones as he fled the scene in a white Ford Taurus, informing police about the suspect’s location and behavior. Using that information, officers from several local agencies were quickly able to catch up with Jones on southbound Woodward near Lincoln Drive.

Police pursued Jones as he crossed I-696 into Pleasant Ridge, where, according to Pleasant Ridge Police Chief Karl Swieczkowski, he lost control of his car and was boxed in by Huntington Woods officers. Police then chased Jones on foot over to a driveway on Oxford Boulevard, just off of Woodward, Swieczkowski said, where a Huntington Woods officer and a Royal Oak officer opened fire, striking Jones with three bullets. Jones was arrested and immediately transported to Beaumont Hospital, where he received medical treatment for his wounds.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Department was later called in to investigate the shooting in order to determine whether the officers were justified in discharging their weapons, according to Undersheriff Mike McCabe. The results of that investigation were still pending at press time.