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Police arrest robbery suspects thanks to tip

PRESCOTT – The vigilance and persistence of a local citizen Thursday led to the arrest of two suspects that Tempe authorities wanted in connection with an alleged armed robbery.

Wesley Gene Merrell, 26, and Danielle Nicole Ward, 18, face multiple charges in connection with a series of events that began in Tempe and concluded in downtown Prescott.

Prescott Police Sgt. Mike Kabbel said that around 11:15 a.m., a Chino Valley resident called them on a cell phone to report that he be-lieved he was behind a vehicle that matched the description of one he saw on television the night before.

Two suspects allegedly kidnapped a Tempe woman at gunpoint in her boyfriend's car and forced her to drive to an ATM machine to get some money. After she complied, they allegedly took the money and the car and left her behind unharmed.

Kabbel said the citizen gave them the Arizona personalized license plate of the silver Honda he was following southbound on Highway 89, which came back as being stolen out of Tempe.

Kabbel said officers tracked down the two suspects and the vehicle in downtown Prescott near Goodwin Street and South Montezuma.

"We made contact with the vehicle, driver and passenger," he said, adding that at that point a foot pursuit began.

An officer caught up with Merrell at Quizno's Restaurant and arrested him after a short struggle.

Kabbel said Merrell was trying to draw a gun, but the officer was able to subdue him before he harmed anyone.

Merrell allegedly was in possession of a gun that was reported stolen out of Phoenix, Kabbel said. Another officer, who stopped at the scene, arrested Ward while she was still in the vehicle, he said.

Kabbel said Ward faces possession of stolen property and possession of a stolen car charges. Merrell faces seven felony charges including aggravated assault, weapons misconduct, possession of stolen property, possession of a stolen gun and possession of a stolen car.

Kabbel said that Merrell has some local ties, while Ward appears to be a Tempe resident.

"She is believed to be his girlfriend," he said.

Kabbel said that Merrell and Ward will probably face separate prosecutions in Maricopa and Yavapai counties.

Information on what charges they are facing in Tempe was unavailable at press time.

Contact the reporter at mburicadam@prescottaz.com

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