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One Butte robbery suspect dead, one hospitalized after police standoff

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Jan 04 2014 12:40:47 PM MST
Updated On: Jan 04 2014 05:55:52 PM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

A five hour standoff with two Butte robbery suspects comes to end in Oregon with one suspect hospitalized  and the other dead.

The two were tracked to across state lines to Lincoln City Oregon, That's about 90 miles south west of Portland. Police there pulled them over Friday night.

30 year olds Sarah Jo Johnson and Dale Edward Wallace were both wanted in connection to an armed robbery on December 30th at the Coins-N-Cards shop in Butte.

We're told Wallace got out of his car and pointed a gun at officers. That's when police tell us a trooper drove into Wallace. He suffered serious injuries and was flown to a hospital in Portland.

Johnson, in the passenger seat, stayed in the car. She was armed with a gun and, after five hours, we're told she took her own life.

We talked with Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff Ed Lester about law enforcement's search for the suspects and how it all ended.

"We never want incidents to end like this but law enforcement isn't always in control of the way these things end," says Lester.

Butte-Silver Bow Sheriff Ed Lester says it started on December 30th when Dale Edward Wallace and Sarah Jo Johnson allegedly walked into the Coins-N-Cards store on Harrison Avenue, armed with a gun. Police tell us the pair tied up the shop's owner for as long as 20 minutes while they allegedly took several weapons from a display case, coins and cash before fleeing the scene in the owner's car.

From there, law enforcement began tracking the two. Johnson and Wallace were spotted in the Missoula area New Year's Day.

"Our department has been working with the FBI, the Seattle Police Department, the Oregon State Police and the Lincoln City Oregon State Police Department and local authorities there to attempt to locate the two suspects," explains Lester.

We're told the FBI was able to locate the two in Oregon and tip off police. That's how officers found the suspects' car.

Oregon Police tell us Wallace was run over after pointing a gun at officers and, after a five hour standoff, Johnson turned her gun towards herself and took her own life.

"Given the mindset of these two and the fact that they were armed, they kind of chose the way this ended," says Lester.

Officials say the police did bring in a negotiator to try and talk Johnson down.