At about 9:22 p.m. on December 30, officers of the Glen Carbon Police Department responded to a 911 call of a strong armed robbery at Walmart, located at 400 Junction Drive. En route, Glen Carbon officers learned two suspects had fled the scene, shooting at witnesses that were following the car providing information to the 911 dispatcher from their vehicle near the intersection of Highway 159 and Interstate 270.
A Glen Carbon police officer pursued the suspects “going well above the posted speed limit” along Interstate 270 west-bound with assist by Madison County deputies and officers of the Pontoon Beach Police Department.
The pursuit ended near Shardell Drive and Poggemoeller Avenue in Spanish Lake with both suspects being taken into custody. Barber exited the car in this residential area and tried to escape on foot before being taken into custody. Smith drove another half mile before being taken into custody.
Officers of the Glen Carbon Police Department and the Edwardsville Police Department responded to Walmart to interview and attend to the medical needs of the victim, a 45-year old female, who was later transported to an area hospital with “superficial injuries to her upper body” occurring from being thrown to the ground after her purse was taken.
Officers and detectives also interviewed witnesses and processed the crime scene for any evidence. Glen Carbon Police Public Information Officer Lieutenant Wayne White said the arrests were “a culmination of great police work all along. If you commit crime in Glen Carbon, we’re going to do everything we can to find you, arrest you, and you will be prosecuted”.
As a result of this investigation, the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office on December 31 issued a warrant of arrest for Earl A. Barber, 41 of the 9600 Block of Ventura Drive in St. Louis and Benjamin N. Smith, 48, of the 9000 block of Cozens in St. Louis.
The Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office has charged each suspect with two felony counts of Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm, as well as one count of Robbery and one count of Unlawful Possession of Weapons by a Felon. Benjamin Smith received an addition charge of Aggravated Fleeing From a Police Officer.
The Honorable Judge Ronald Slemer signed Barber’s Warrant of Arrest and set his bail at $350,000 and signed Smith’s Warrant of Arrest and set his bail at $250,000. Barber and Smith are currently in custody in St. Louis County, pending extradition to Illinois.
Barber has been identified as a suspect in similar crimes which occurred in Collinsville and Edwardsville. Investigations are ongoing in these jurisdictions.
White said “area detectives have been working leads for a long time to identify him [Barber] and when you are able to put good patrol work along with good investigative work and our private citizens chipping in, that is how we are able to bring people to justice”.