Robbery at Markland Shell leads to kidnapping, high speed chase to Cincinnati

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It was a rather quiet Sunday night at Markland Shell near the Markland Dam in Switzerland County. The employees were finishing up their duties and closing the store, and at about 10:15 p.m., everything seemed to be fine.

But that all changed moments later, as an armed robbery turned into a kidnapping and high speed chase that ended in Cincinnati.

Indiana State Police officers said that an armed gunman entered the Markland Shell station and held three individuals hostage before stealing the safe from the store office and taking two of the hostages with him in a stolen car.

Terrance T. Young, 29, who law enforcement officials say is homeless but is believed to be from Memphis, Tennessee, is being held in the Hamilton County, Ohio Justice Center in Cincinnati on eight counts: one count of robbery, a class B felony; three counts of criminal confinement, each a class B felony; four counts of intimidation, each a class C felony; and one count of theft, a class D felony.

According to Ron Otter, owner of Markland Shell, things quickly went from normal to chaos.

Ron Otter said that everyone was working to close the store for the evening, and his youngest son, Calen Otter, was at the store because he was going to be spending the night with James Dobbs, 47, a family friend who was at the store. While waiting for the store to close, Calen Otter and James Dobbs were doing some odd jobs, filling the cooler and gathering some trash and empty boxes.

Ron Otter said that when the two went out the back door to throw things away, then encountered two gunmen who were waiting behind the building.

“Calen threw some empty crates on them and took off running,” Ron Otter said. “He ran around to the front of the building and found a man there and told him that we were being robbed and asked to use his cell phone. The man wouldn’t let him use it and just drove away.”

Ron Otter said that a lady in a pickup truck, as yet unidentified, who pulled into the lot, and upon encountering Calen Otter, she got him into her truck and allowed him to use her cell phone.

He called the police, and then he called his dad.

“I don’t know who that lady was, but I need to find her,” Ron Otter said. “She kept Calen in her truck and safe until the police got there.”

In the emotion of the moment, James Dobbs had also gotten away, but was recaptured near the front of the store and taken back around to the back of the building.

During that time, Ron Otter said that one of the gunmen apparently got spooked and took off in the vehicle, leaving the second gunman, Terrance T. Young, alone and abandoned at the scene of the crime.

The gunman, holding James Dobbs hostage behind the store, then encountered 16-year old Kendall Otter, a son of Ron and Lorrie Otter who works at the store. He had closed and was leaving through the back door when he came upon the gunman, who then took him hostage as well.

Another employee, Susan Johnson, then exited the building through the back door, unaware that anything was going on. She was also taken hostage.

Ron Otter said that the gunman then made all three hostages lay on the ground, and then had Kendall Otter get up and go into the store and carry the store safe outside from the office. Once the safe was outside, the second gunman apparently realized that his accomplice had fled the scene, so he ordered Kendall Otter to put the safe in Susan Johnson’s car.

“He made Kendall and JD get in the back seat with him, but then after they took off he made JD climb over the seat so he could give him directions,” Ron Otter said. “That’s when they went on a high speed ride to Cincinnati.”

Ron Otter said that officers from the Florence, Kentucky police department identified and began following the car as it passed Florence; and all of the vehicles streaked toward Cincinnati.

“Right after they crossed the bridge into Cincinnati, the gunman laid the gun down on his lap so he could take his hood off,” Ron Otter said. “When he did that, JD grabbed the gun and threw it out the window.”

The vehicle then drove over some “stop sticks” that had been placed in the roadway by officers, and with the tires on the vehicle flattened, the chase was over.

Ron Otter said that Cincinnati police, not knowing who was involved in the robbery, at first handcuffed all three occupants of the vehicle, but then released Kendall Otter and James Dobbs, who were brought back to the Markland Shell station by Florence police officers, where they gave statements to the Indiana State Police.

Luckily, no one suffered any physical injuries as a result of the robbery; but Ron Otter said that all of the people involved, including his two sons, were still pretty shaken up as a result of the incident.

Investigators are still looking for the second gunman, who is still unidentified at this time.

The Indiana State Police were assisted in their investigation by the Switzerland County Sheriff’s Department; Cincinnati Police, and Florence, Kentucky police.

Anyone having any information about this incident is asked to contact the Switzerland County Sheriff’s office at 427-3636 or the Indiana State Police post at 812-689-5000. All information will be kept confidential.