Originally created 11/25/03

Man hits branch full of customers



A man waving a gun robbed SouthTrust Bank on Tobacco Road on Monday morning while it was full of customers.

The robber walked in about 10:45 a.m. and immediately ordered everyone onto the floor and demanded that a teller fill his plastic bag with money. The man took the money, ran out and sped away in a gold or tan minivan, Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Ken Autry said. No one was hurt.

George Smith was waiting to cash a check with another teller when he saw the man come in.

"He started yelling, 'Get down! Get down!' Then he told the teller that she was too slow," Mr. Smith said. "She looked pretty nervous and shook up."

LeClare Bookman, another customer, told police she saw the man rush out of the bank and get into the minivan, which was backed into a parking space near the front entrance. She said no one else was visible in the vehicle.

The robber was described as white, about 6 feet 2 inches and 200 pounds, wearing dark clothing, surgical gloves, sunglasses and a knit cap.

Maj. Autry said police were comparing notes on Monday's incident and two other unsolved bank robberies - one Oct. 28 at the SouthTrust Bank at 3535 Wheeler Road, and one Oct. 14 at the Bank of America at 2853 Washington Road.

In those cases, police are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to arrests. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff's office at (706) 821-1080.

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.