Originally created 01/04/01

Second bank robbery hits area



While Richmond County authorities made an arrest Wednesday in one bank robbery, Columbia County officers began a search for a suspect in another.

The second bank robbery in as many days occurred Wednesday at a Martinez SouthTrust Bank, but police say the two likely aren't connected.

Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said Wednesday's robbery involved a man in his mid-20s who entered the 4065 Columbia Road bank branch at about 12:45 p.m. and passed a note to a teller demanding money.

Customers were in the bank at the time. Capt. Morris said the teller gave money to the man. Eyewitnesses said the robber was black and wore a dark fleece jacket, square-rimmed dark glasses and had no facial hair. The robber left on foot toward Columbia Square shopping center.

Also Wednesday, a woman was arrested in connection with the robbery Tuesday of the Wachovia bank branch on Tobacco Road.

Monique Yvonne Coppin, 30, of the 1800 block of Watkins Street, was charged with hindering the apprehension or punishment of a criminal. According to authorities, Ms. Coppin said she was paid $300 to give Lewis Stephen Johnson, 31, a ride to Atlanta after Tuesday's robbery.

A warrant for robbery by intimidation has been issued for Mr. Johnson. The FBI also is pursuing a federal warrant for bank robbery, said Augusta office supervising Agent Ed Reinhold.

Ms. Coppin told investigators she knew the police were after Mr. Johnson. She said she was paid $300 in $100 bills, police said.

Described as an acquaintance of Mr. Johnson, Ms. Coppin was arrested early Wednesday, and has since handed the money over to police, Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry said. She was being held Wednesday at the Richmond County jail on $5,050 bond.

Agent Reinhold would not say where in metropolitan Atlanta the suspect was dropped off.

"We've got our guys in the Atlanta area looking for him," he said. "I don't want to get into too much detail."

The FBI also is investigating the Martinez robbery. Capt. Morris said investigators with his department were reviewing surveillance videos, which caught the suspect on tape. Deputies searched for the robber Wednesday in nearby businesses along Columbia and Flowing Wells roads.

Descriptions of the at-large suspects in the two robberies differed, Capt. Morris said.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 110.