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Police encounter robbery suspects on Highway 99

ATWATER -- Atwater police and Merced County Sheriff's Department deputies teamed up early Monday night to apprehend two men suspected of robbing an 85-year-old woman of her purse in downtown Atwater.

Ronald Thompson, 18, and Michael Thompson, 21, both of Atwater, were arrested on robbery charges. Ronald Thompson also faces a charge of resisting arrest and a felony warrant.

Sheriff's Sgt. Paul Roseman said deputies Paul Garcia and Patrick Geary saw two men crossing Highway 99 as they were northbound on the highway at Applegate Road.

Detective Armando Echevarria of the Atwater Police Department said Michael Thompson was caught on Bell Drive. Geary pursued Ronald Thompson on foot about a half-mile to a relative's home in the 2000 block of Betsy Ross Court.

Echevarria said the robbery victim was shaken up but not injured in the 5:20 p.m. incident outside a business in the 1400 block of Broadway. He praised the communication and teamwork of Atwater police and deputies, saying they happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Echevarria said both Thompsons, not related, would be booked into Merced County Jail. Geary and Atwater Officer Bobby Gregory searched for Ronald Thompson in the home, finding him in an upstairs bedroom, along with items taken from the robbery victim.

Roseman said Garcia and Geary saw the two men in the median, turned around and exited the highway at Applegate Road. After being informed by dispatchers that a robbery had taken place, the deputies sought to question the men when the foot pursuit began.

Echevarria said no weapons were seen or recovered. The robbery victim's belongings were thrown into a field near Bell Drive.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or">