Authorities said a Tennessee man arrested in Clanton went on a drug-fueled crime spree along Interstate 65 that included an armed robbery at a Decatur gas station Saturday afternoon.
Officers caught Bobby Dale Huffines, 29, of Portland, Tenn., late Saturday night in the woods near the 219 mile marker after he committed two more robberies within a 30-minute period and led officers on a car chase that ended when Jemison police spiked his tires, Clanton Police Chief Brian Stilwell said.
Huffines was traveling to Florida, police said, when he stopped in Clanton, midway between Birmingham and Montgomery. Huffines robbed a Subway and a Captain D’s, where he herded employees into the back of the restaurant and fired a shot at the manager, barely missing her, Stilwell said.
“He apparently tried to fire another shot, but the gun jammed,” Stilwell said.
Decatur police investigator Lt. Rick Archer said he obtained a warrant Wednesday charging Huffines with first-degree robbery for the incident that took place at the Raceway on Alabama 20 East near I-65.
Linda Horn, a 64-year-old Mississippi woman who was passing through, stopped for gas when she was robbed of cash and an iPhone at 4:30 p.m. The robber was wearing a multi-colored bandana and armed with a small black pistol, according to a police report.
The suspect drove away in a white Chevrolet with a green tag, which Archer said police believe was Huffines’ 2000 Malibu with a Tennessee license plate.
“There was evidence similar to (the bandana) that was recovered. There were several items found in his vehicle that we believe will link him to our robbery,” Archer said.
Clanton investigators found out about the Decatur robbery by pulling the owner’s information from the phone and calling her.
Stilwell said Huffines told police he recalled “possibly” robbing a woman at a gas station near the Alabama-Tennessee line. “He also thinks he might have hurt her,” Stilwell said.
Archer said Horn was shaken up but did not suffer serious injury.
“It was unfortunate that this lady had to endure what she did, but based on his actions during the robbery in Clanton, it’s evident that he was capable of doing far worse,” Archer said.
In addition to toboggans, hats and bandanas, Huffines had a rolled-up carpet in his car and several red zip-ties “done up like handcuffs,” Stilwell said.
“He had several sets of those hanging from his gear shifter. That kind of got us concerned,” he said.
Huffines, too, was worried he might have hurt somebody, Stilwell said.
He told police he was using prescription pills and couldn’t remember much.
“We couldn’t interview him when we first arrested him because he was so messed up on either alcohol or drugs,” Stilwell said. “When we talked to him Monday, he didn’t know he was here in Alabama.”
Huffines, charged with two counts of armed robbery, attempted murder, theft of property, and numerous traffic violations, is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail in the Chilton County Jail. If he makes bail, he will be transferred to Limestone County Jail.
He is cooperating with investigators as they try to piece together the trail of robberies he committed to get money for his trip.
“He left his home on the spur of the moment with no food, no money and no gas, said he was going to Florida to start his life over,” Stilwell said. “He’s no longer a resident of Tennessee. He’s a resident of Chilton County, Ala., now.”
The gun used in the robberies was a .22 caliber pistol stolen in Tennessee.
Stilwell said Huffines is a suspect in at least one Tennessee robbery and possibly a bank robbery in that state.
Huffines also recalled a Denny’s or a similar restaurant along I-65 that he might have robbed, Stilwell said.
After Jemison police laid spike strips near the 219 mile marker and blew his tires, Huffines got out and ran. Clanton and Jemison officers and Chilton County sheriff’s deputies caught him in the woods near the interstate after a short foot pursuit.
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