Poplar Bluff robbery suspects shoots self in head

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- After a brief standoff with officers, a man authorities suspect robbed a local convenience store at gunpoint Monday night is in a St. Louis hospital recovering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Just after 7 p.m. Monday, a man police believe to have Brian Todahl entered Rocky Top Corner Convenience to pay for his fuel, according to Butler County Sheriff Mark Dobbs.

"He paid for his gas; when [the clerk] opened the cash register he said 'Go ahead and give me all the money out of the cash register,'" Dobbs said.

The store clerk, Dobbs said, reported Todahl allegedly pulled "some sort of a semiautomatic pistol. ... He put it on the counter [and] was holding it, pointing it at the clerk [and] demanding the money from the case register. ... [He] apparently got in excess of $700."

The suspect, Dobbs said, was said to be driving a dark-colored Ford sport utility vehicle.

In conjunction with an investigation the Poplar Bluff Police Department was conducting, "we learned that Brian Todahl had made statements during a domestic altercation earlier in the day that he planned to rob a convenience store," Dobbs said.

Deputy Chief Jeff Rolland said officers investigated an alleged first-degree assault in which Todahl is suspected of assaulting a family member a pipe.

"In that situation, he made reference that he was going to commit an armed robbery and flee the area," Rolland said.

Officers with the sheriff's department and police department went to Todahl's residence in the 500 block of Route AA to investigate the alleged robbery, Dobbs said.

"At which time, they located him behind the residence in a grassy area near the back porch," Dobbs said.

Deputy Chief Jeff Rolland said Todahl had "barricaded himself underneath a porch, was pointing his handgun at officers and threatening the officers, who took cover. [The officers] instructed Mr. Todahl to surrender his weapon. He refused and shot himself in the head."

The wound, Dobbs said, is "nonfatal thus far."

Todahl, 29, reportedly was taken to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center and later flown to a St. Louis hospital for treatment.

The clerk, Dobbs said, "did the correct thing" by handing over the money and getting a good description of the suspect and his vehicle.

"Naturally, we can always replace money and things of material value," Dobbs said. "We can't replace lives. It's always refreshing no one tried to be the hero, but did what needed to be done to obtain the information we needed to solve the case."

Dobbs said the sheriff's department is requesting charges of armed robbery, armed criminal action and unlawful use of a weapon be filed against Todahl, who he described as a regular customer of Rocky Top.

"He had been barred from the business [for bad checks], but he wasn't [a customer] that was known to the cashier," Dobbs said.

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