Originally created 01/12/00

Bank robbery suspect arrested



With one suspect in custody, police were still searching late Tuesday for an accomplice accused of robbing a North Augusta bank.

Michael Harmon, 21, was arrested in a downtown Augusta neighborhood after police said he and an unidentified man led officers from both sides of the Savannah River on a high-speed chase through city streets. Both men were wanted in the 11:50 a.m. robbery of Regions Bank on West Avenue, according to Lt. Tim Pearson of the North Augusta Department of Public Safety.

Blue lights and sirens of more than five police vehicles raced through Augusta and South Carolina streets in pursuit of a white Chevrolet Corsica carrying the two men, Lt. Pearson said.

The pursuit led police across the 13th Street bridge, up 15th Street. The men left the getaway car in a community near T.W. Josey High School. The chase continued on foot, witnesses said.

Post Street resident Casedett Lloyd said that he was on his way to do laundry when Mr. Harmon and the band of police vehicles sped past him.

"All of sudden we heard a lot of cars, sirens. Then we saw a guy running out of the back yard and down the street.

"That cat was running so fast," he said. "All I could see was white shirt and some black pants. We were like, `What's going on?' He was like, `They behind me.' And he kept going."

After he and his accomplice abandoned the car, witnesses said Mr. Harmon jumped several fences in the neighborhood and finally dove under an abandoned house on 15th Street.

At 1306 Post St., pieces of black hair weave -- part of a disguise allegedly used in the robbery -- blew across the back yard along with several $1 bills.

"Then, we saw all of the police officers surround the area," Mr. Lloyd said. "And then they caught him in some of those bushes over there. That was the end of it."

Mr. Harmon, a Damascus Road resident, was charged with bank robbery and other offenses.

"Both guys entered the bank, and one of them brandished a pistol," Lt. Pearson said. "They left with an undisclosed amount of money."

Moments later, an officer spotted the car traveling toward Augusta on Georgia Avenue. Officials said Mr. Harmon was the driver.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was involved in the case because bank robbery is a federal offense, Lt. Pearson said. He added that investigators would not disclose information about the weapon used in the crime or the amount of money stolen, but one official said that police recovered $50 to $100 at the scene of the arrest.

"(Investigators) still are currently following up on leads and the second suspect who still remains at-large," Lt. Pearson said.

Richmond County Sheriff deputies and investigators assisted North Augusta authorities with the case.

Reach Clarissa J. Walker at (706) 828-3851.