Semi driver killed near JBLM in high-speed crash with fleeing armed robbery suspects

Near LAKEWOOD, Wash. — Two armed robbery suspects in an SUV who were trying to get away from Lakewood Police slammed into a semi-truck near JBLM, killing its driver.

At 12:44 a.m. Thursday, at least five masked suspects held up a clerk and customers at a 7-Eleven at 3116 Sixth Avenue in Tacoma. Several of the suspects had handguns, according to Tacoma Police.

Cash and some of the customers’ belongings were taken before the robbers left in a dark Kia SUV. During the robbery, one of the suspects pulled the trigger. The gun clicked but did not fire. Tacoma Police believe it jammed.

Officers reviewed security footage from the store and sent photos to all on-duty police units in Pierce County, saying there was probable cause for first-degree robbery.

At about 5:30 a.m., a Lakewood officer spotted the suspects’ SUV in the Tillicum neighborhood and tried to pull it over, but the driver sped off. Seconds later, a semi-truck that was on the Berkeley Avenue overpass heading down to southbound I-5 was hit by the suspects’ SUV at a high speed. The impact caused the tractor — or cab — of the semi to spin around, and the driver was thrown from the truck and down onto I-5 below.

The driver was taken to the hospital, where he was declared dead.

The robbery suspects in the SUV — two juvenile boys — were arrested. Their ages are not yet known. Both were taken to the hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Police are still looking for the three other robbery suspects.

Lakewood Police said the suspects may have been involved in another robbery in King County.

The crash caused the two right lanes of southbound I-5 to be blocked until about 7:15 a.m. All lanes are back open, but some off-ramps in the area remain closed while crews work to clean up debris and remove the semi-truck.

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