January 3, 2008
Robbery suspect cornered, captured
By SUE WATSON
A suspect charged with armed robbery of the Citizens Bank of Barton was taken into custody Friday after a long standoff in Shelby County, Tenn., according to Sheriff Kenny Dickerson.
Ladell Wilson Williams, 49, a white male from the small community of Lumberton near Hattiesburg, was arrested without incident and most, if not all, of the thousands of dollars he took from bank tellers was recovered, Dickerson said.
The suspect arrived at the bank around 2 p.m. Friday Dec. 28 in a truck tractor (18-wheeler tractor), parked it in front of the bank and walked in with a gun tied to a string around his neck, then presented bank tellers with a note demanding money, according to Dickerson.
The gun turned out to be an authentic looking SIG SAUER or GLOCK, Dickerson said.
After presenting the tellers with a threatening note demanding money, the suspect said he had a gun and exhibited it in the direction of tellers, the sheriff said.
Two savvy tellers and one of their acquaintances who happened to be near the bank, got in a vehicle together and followed the truck tractor while talking with law enforcement and 911 staffers.
During flight, the suspect threw out some of the cash which was recovered by bank employees, he said.
Tennessee authorities were notified and the suspect was stopped in the roadway near the intersection of Quinn Road and Shelby Drive in the Collierville area, where a long standoff ensued.
Dickerson said his deputies were among the first to arrive and with the help of other officers with the Collierville and Germantown police departments, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, other federal agencies, Shelby County sheriff’s deputies and Sheriff Dickerson himself, the perimeter was secured and a command post was set up in order to talk with the suspect and encourage him to come out of the truck.
The suspect remained in the truck cab behind the driver’s seat and communicated to authorities that he had a bomb and a gun, Dickerson said.
Germantown police brought an armed vehicle with a robotic arm which has speakers attached to effect communication with the man in the truck cab and a three-hour period of tense negotiations followed.
During that period law enforcement disabled the vehicle motor with three shots fired from a 50-caliber rifle. The armed vehicle also was equipped to puncture tires to stop the vehicle from being driven, but it was not used, he said.
After the suspect surrendered, a search of the truck yielded the remainder of the missing bank money.
Dickerson said the dye pack had exploded with the money and the suspect was observed to have red dye on his hands and clothing when he was arrested.
Further investigation revealed the suspect had prior arrests in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis and was wanted by Memphis and Shelby County authorities on charges of probation violation.
“The most recent charges we are aware of is a forgery charge in Memphis and probation violation,” Dickerson said.
The suspect was taken into custody by local and federal agents and carried to Collierville where he faces local charges regarding the incident at the time of arrest on Shelby Drive and a probation charge violation from the State of Tennessee.
Williams was officially charged through Marshall County Justice Court on an arrest warrant from the state of Mississippi with armed robbery of the Citizens Bank of Barton Saturday.
“That arrest warrant was sent to Collierville and authorities in Shelby County where we have placed a detainer on the suspect who may be extradited to Marshall County as early as mid-week,” Dickerson said.
The suspect can be prosecuted by the State of Mississippi or by federal prosecutors, he said.
Dickerson said he expects to receive a federal warrant to be served on the suspect, charging armed robbery of a bank.
In the event federal authorities file a complaint against the suspect, all agencies involved in the arrest of Williams and the investigation will work together to decide later which agency will lead the prosecution of the case, Dickerson said.
Under federal law, the act of exhibiting a firearm carries an additional five years imprisonment upon conviction plus the charges of the robbery itself, he said.
“It matters not that the weapon is not of authentic origin,” said Dickerson. “Certainly he didn’t tell the folks in the bank it was not real.”
Dickerson said the end result of the arrest of the suspect and recovery of the bank money and the collection of evidence “shows how effective law enforcement can be when agencies work together to provide the best to law enforcement in their local areas.”
He applauded the actions taken by employees of the bank and their acquaintance which he said “are certainly commendable.”
“Without their help, the arrest in all likelihood would have been much more difficult,” he said.
Further investigation has led authorities to strongly believe that Williams had made phone calls to two individuals requesting to be met in a church parking lot on Quinn Road, where the suspect is believed to have intended to abandon the tractor truck and use the individuals to assist in a further getaway.
“At this point we do not have evidence to support arrest warrants for these individuals,” he said. “However, during the course of the investigation, if it is determined the two were involved, then they could face charges. These people were thoroughly debriefed and it is believed by all agencies there is no reason to believe they knew of the suspect’s plans to rob a bank.”
Dickerson said the red truck tractor is believed to be the property of a trucking firm in Texas and was used for legitimate trucking.
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