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Armed robber nabbed after foot chase

By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
An Atmore man was arrested for attempted robbery after leading police officers on a foot chase through downtown Tuesday morning.
Kelly Bernard Simms, a 19-year-old male of Patterson Street, was charged with attempted robbery by the Atmore Police Department after employees at Hazel's Curl Country on Church Street called in a report to the department that the suspect was acting suspiciously outside of the business.
APD Chief Danny McKinley said they received the initial call at approximately 7:45 a.m. He said the operators of the hair salon saw Simms walk by the business and that he had looked in through a window several times.
When a customer left Hazel's the employees locked the door. McKinley said the suspect then tried to enter the business and was told they were closed. An employee noticed that Simms' hands remained in his pockets. McKinley said Simms walked away at that time and the employees called the police.
While responding to the business, Sgt. John Stallworth noticed a male that fit the description of the suspect walking along Trammell Street, north of the railroad track. When Stallworth approached Simms he ran and Stallworth gave chase down Louisville Avenue.
The foot chase continued into the downtown area and through an alley by the Wisteria on Main Street. At that point, Stallworth lost sight of the suspect.
Simms was spotted immediately near Pullens Television Repair by Officer Barry Hurst. The chase continued as Hurst and Officer Robby Williams ran after him.
The officers were successful in apprehending Simms at the front of First National Bank on Main Street.
After searching him, police found what McKinley described as a "Halloween-style mask." But, they were unable to locate any weapon.
A search began along the chase route. While looking in the alley beside the Wisteria, witnesses told officers they saw Simms throw something into the bushes. Officer Jimmy Jay searched the bushes and found a handgun.
McKinley said Simms admitted that he planned to rob the hair salon during an interview after his arrest.
McKinley said the chase took about 10 minutes and the communication between the officers and the dispatcher helped make the arrest possible.
Along with the officers, McKinley said citizens who were downtown Tuesday morning also played a role.