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Accused serial robber linked to 11 cases in Portsmouth dies in hospital after suicide attempt

Posted at 5:57 PM, Jun 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-17 23:13:20-04

Portsmouth, Va. - A 34-year-old Portsmouth robbery suspect died in the hospital on Tuesday, June 9th after attempting to commit suicide at the Portsmouth Jail.

The father of Pharoah A. Atum says his son died Tuesday at 4:45 p.m.

Atum was arrested on Monday after Portsmouth Police say he has been linked to almost a dozen robberies in the city.

NewsChannel 3 spoke to police in Chesapeake who say it is possible that he was also linked to robbery cases in their city as well. Norfolk Police say they are also not ruling out the possibility.

Police received a tip on June 1st about one of the more recent robberies.

Detectives then identified the suspect and arrested Pharaoh A. Atum. They found him at the intersection of Elm Avenue and South Street and he was taken into custody.

He was charged with abduction, robbery, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and possession of a firearm by a felon. This is in connection with two of the robberies. He was charged in two incidents and linked to nine others that have occurred since April 10th, 2015. Portsmouth Police have reported at least seventeen robberies at various businesses since April 10th, but until Atum’s arrest, they only charged two suspects in just one of the robberies.

Officials say Atum tried to commit suicide while he was inside of the Portsmouth Jail awaiting a trail date. He was found unresponsive and authorities began to administer CPR.

According to Atum’s father, he told detectives that his son was suicidal, and two days later, that is exactly what happened.

“As they were leaving, the SWAT team was leaving, I told every one of them, I said ‘hey my son is suicidal,’” says Atum’s father, who wishes to remain anonymous. “They should have taken care of what I told them they ignored that, I think they're responsible for that.”

Atum’s father says his son was struggling with drug addiction for two years, then lost his job about a month ago.

He is now trying to get burial costs figured out and is hoping to have a funeral.

NewsChannel 3 reached out to Portsmouth Police about Atum’s father warning to detectives that his son was suicidal, but we are still waiting to hear back.

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