|Suspect caught after at least two bank robbery attempts in Delta County|
|Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor|
Aug. 30, 2006 -- One man is being held in Delta County today following at least two attempted bank robberies and a high-speed chase in that county.
The series of events began around mid-morning Wednesday when a man, armed with a rifle, attempted to rob First National Bank in Cooper, according to Delta County Chief Deputy Sheriff Ron Foster.
The would-be robber left when people in the Cooper bank would not give him any money and drove to Enloe Bank.
"By that time, they had locked the doors," the chief deputy said. "They all call each other and let them know there has been a problem, and all the banks in the county lock their doors."
When the man got to the Enloe bank, he was directed to the drive-through window, but he drove off and was spotted by Foster, who had been alerted after the first robbery attempt.
"I saw him coming down [State Highway] 24 and that is when I got in pursuit of him," Foster said. "He made a 'U' turn and I got in pursuit of him."
With Foster in close pursuit, the suspect attempted to outrun the deputy with his small, compact car, continually increasing his speed from 70 upward in excess of 100 miles per hour as he continued north on 24.
"That little Geo would really run," Foster said. "My pickup only shows 100 on the speedometer, but we were doing over a hundred."
During that chase, the suspect was passing cars on the right. Fortunately, Foster said, there was not much traffic.
"Mainly the truckers, whenever they would see the red lights, they would pull over and yield," he said. "We were running in excess of 100 miles per hour on [State Highway] 24 from Cooper going north."
As the chase reached State Highway 19, Delta County Deputy John Williams was waiting and turned across the highway median to intercept the fleeing car.
"He saw [Williams] and slammed on his brakes and made a right hand turn and ran right straight into [Hopkins County Chief Deputy] Rickey Morgan," Foster said. "At that point he pulled over, and that ended the chase at 19 and 24."
Foster said the bank robbery suspect was armed with a .22-cal. rifle, but the gun had jammed.
"We ordered him to get out of the car and he refused to get out of the car," Foster said. "We had to physically remove him from the car, and he did not resist once we got him on the ground."
Foster declined to identify the suspect prior to any charges being filed, but did say the man was thought to be a Cooper resident and was between 40 and 45 years of age.
Prior to Foster spotting him on SH 24, Hopkins County and Hunt County authorities joined Delta County officers in attempting to locate the suspect and Geo, initially thought to be headed south on 19 toward Hopkins County. Hopkins County officers scoured the north end of Hopkins County and continued assisting Williams into Delta County. Hunt County was alerted to be on the lookout for the man, as the escape car was registered as belonging to a rural Commerce resident.
Once Delta County officers began pursuing the white male in the Geo north on SH 24, Hopkins County officers headed toward that general direct to be ready should he detour. As it became clear he was headed toward SH 19, Hopkins County officers headed that direction to prevent the vehicle from continuing north. Lamar County officials were also on standby, as it appeared the chase was headed that direction.
The search concluded at 10:10 a.m. Wednesday.