Alleged tip jar thief dies in pond after trying to get away from officers

Alleged tip jar thief dies in pond after trying to get away from officers

ATLANTA — Gwinnett County police officers and firefighters tried to save a robbery suspect who crashed into a pond Sunday night.

They told Channel 2 Action News the suspect robbed Italian Pie, a restaurant on Beaver Ruin Road.

Police tried to stop the suspect off Steve Reynolds Boulevard and found the car in the water.

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The suspect has been identified as Jaylen Purge, 18.

Channel 2's Rikki Klaus spoke to a worker who ran after him, putting himself in danger.

"He drove away so fast, he almost ran over me," he said.

Minutes later, police said Purge died in a pond trying to get away.


Klaus obtained surveillance video from the Lilburn restaurant showed Purge entering the store. It was around 6 p.m. Sunday.

Owner Juan Angeles was behind the counter.

“So this guy came, right, and I asked him, 'How may I help you sir?' He’s like, 'Do you guys accept EBT stamps?' I said, 'No, sorry sir.' He said, 'How about your tips?' He took the tip jar, and he runs away. I tried to chase him, to stop him, and he drove away like so fast, he almost ran over me,” Angeles said.

Angeles hopped over the counter, and he and his brother, Diego, ran after Purge's speeding car.

"It’s not fair that somebody just come and take your money away, so I feel bad because what happened to him, but you don’t steal money. You can work," he said.

Gwinnett County police said an officer happened to notice the vehicle speeding from the parking lot and the brothers chasing after it.

The officer followed Purge and tried to pull over the car in Norcross, but it ran off the road and disappeared among trees near Steve Reynolds Boulevard and Pavilion Place.

Officers found the vehicle upside down in a retention pond. They said the car was almost fully submerged.

The brothers told Klaus the tip jar had about $100 in it, plus change.