Smithville Police Arrest Suspect in McMinnville Armed Robbery

October 20, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page
Patricia Johnson East

A suspect in an armed robbery of the Cash and Dash in McMinnville was stopped by Smithville Police and taken into custody Tuesday afternoon.

Chief Randy Caplinger said 22 year old Patricia Johnson East of Cookeville was stopped on South Congress Boulevard near the Red Barn Produce location shortly after 4:00 p.m. Inside her vehicle, police found a semi-automatic pistol and cash. She has now been charged in Warren County with aggravated robbery and theft of property. East allegedly entered the Cash and Dash in McMinnville wearing a ball cap and eyeglasses armed with a pistol. She reportedly left with $600-$700 in cash.

According to Chief Caplinger, police received a BOLO or "Be on the lookout" for a white SUV being driven by a white female. A license plate number was given. The BOLO, received at 3:50 p.m., reported that a woman had "just robbed at gunpoint a Cash and Dash in McMinnville." The car was last seen traveling toward Smithville.

Chief Caplinger said Lieutenant Steven Leffew set up on South Congress Boulevard waiting for the vehicle and spotted it shortly after 4:00 p.m.

Lieutenant Leffew's report states " I set up on South Congress Boulevard at 4:09 p.m. and saw a white Pathfinder driven by a white female traveling northbound. As I got behind the vehicle, I confirmed the license plate number. I stopped the vehicle and approached it from the passenger side. I instructed the driver to place her hands on the roof of the car. I told the woman, Patricia Johnson East, that the McMinnville Police Department was requesting to talk to her and they were enroute. East became upset and started crying. I told her to calm down but to keep her hands where I could see them. I asked her if there were any weapons in the vehicle and she stated "no".

"Officer Matt Farmer arrived on the scene. He approached the vehicle from the passenger side. Officer Farmer asked her if he could look in the vehicle and she said "yes". Farmer ordered her to get out of the vehicle. He noticed a gun case on the passenger side floor board. Farmer also produced a pistol from the car. She was handcuffed and taken into custody for protection and she was read her rights. She gave a verbal consent to search her vehicle."

Chief Caplinger says McMinnville and Sparta detectives came to the scene and authorities from Cumberland County later arrived at the police department to question her about similar crimes in those counties. She was then taken to Warren County to be charged.

Before her arrest , Chief Caplinger said Smithville Police were called Tuesday to two locations in Smithville to check out a suspicious person, which could have been East.

Chief Caplinger said an officer was called to 3D Financial at 2:31 p.m. in reference to a panic alarm. Upon arrival an employee stated that they received an alert in reference to a white female, driving a white SUV who had committed an armed robbery in Cumberland County and Putnam County. Employees said a female driving a similar type vehicle came into the business (3D Financial) and she was acting suspiciously. The woman had left the business by the time police arrived.

The police department was called to Cash Express on a similar complaint, but again the suspect was gone by the time police arrived.

Chief Caplinger says surveillance video from the Cash Express and 3D Financial will be reviewed to see if East was the woman who came into those places of business.

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