Merced pharmacy robbery suspects captured in Ripon after 50-mile chase, police say

Two Sacramento men, suspected of robbing a Merced pharmacy Thursday evening, were captured after leading police on a 50-mile high-speed chase, the Police Department reported.

Mills Frank Wesley III, 23, and 18-year-old Jakob Kenneth Johns, are suspected of entering the Rite Aid pharmacy at 1158 W. Main St. in Merced at 5:45 p.m., Merced Police Capt. Bimley West said. Two men jumped over the pharmacy counter and stole prescription medications.

The suspects then fled in a silver compact sedan, West said. But officers had figured out where they were and started pursuit.

The two men led the officers on a lengthy chase that ended about 50 miles later in Ripon when their car crashed into a tree in the 1500 block of West Colony Road, West said.

"The officers did a good job (locating the suspects)," West said. "The suspects were flying at fairly high speeds."

Wesley and Johns were taken into custody and brought back to Merced. Detectives on Thursday night were working to determine any other people were involved.

Pharmacies have been prime targets throughout the Valley since last fall, when a string of robberies hit stores in Merced, Fresno, Modesto and Visalia.

West could not confirm whether the Main Street Rite Aid has previously been robbed, but said detectives have not ruled out the possibility that Thursday's robbery could be tied to other recent cases.

Anyone with information on robberies at Rite Aids or other pharmacies in the area is being urged to contact Merced Police Detective John Pinnegar at 209-388-7712.