Suspected bank robber’s case moves to circuit court

By: Jeremy Selweski | Woodward Talk | Published November 8, 2012

John Azell Jones

HUNTINGTON WOODS — A man accused of robbing a Huntington Woods bank in September may soon be facing trial in Oakland County Circuit Court.

On Nov. 1, Oak Park 45-B District Court Judge David M. Gubow bound the case of John Azell Jones over to circuit court following a preliminary exam. Jones, 47, of Royal Oak Township, is facing four felony counts in the case: bank robbery, unarmed robbery, fleeing and eluding police, and resisting and obstructing police. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.

Jones will be arraigned in circuit court Nov. 13 before Judge Shalina Kumar. He is currently being held in Oakland County Jail on a bond of $5 million cash or surety.

According to Huntington Woods public safety, at around 10:20 a.m. Sept. 10, an eyewitness saw Jones put on a cap and gloves as he entered the Chase Bank at 26363 Woodward Ave. Jones approached a teller, told her that this was a robbery and made threats that he was going to kill her, police said. He then allegedly ran out of the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash, dropping money all over the vestibule as he did so.

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

The officers pursued Jones as he crossed I-696 into Pleasant Ridge, where he lost control of his vehicle and was boxed in by police cars. They then chased Jones on foot to a driveway on Oxford Boulevard, just off of Woodward, police said. There, Huntington Woods and Royal Oak officers 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 to determine whether the officers were reasonable in firing their guns. According to Undersheriff Mike McCabe, the study indicated that there was no wrongdoing on the officers’ part.

“We determined that this was a clear and justified cause for discharging their weapons,” McCabe said. “Those two officers acted appropriately within the law and did what they had to do to stop this suspect and protect themselves.”

But Jones’ attorney, Judith S. Gracey, disagreed that the shooting was warranted, pointing out that Jones was unarmed at the time. Still, she had very little to say about the facts of the case.

“This is still a pending investigation,” she said, “so I would prefer not to comment any further at this time. All of this information will eventually come out in court.”

According to the Michigan Offender Tracking Information System (OTIS), Jones — who sometimes uses the alias Jamal Johnson — has an extensive criminal history, dating back more than 25 years. He 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.