Bank customers mistaken for robbers

AIKEN – Here’s a banking tip: when making a withdrawal, you might want to keep your weapons at home, especially in Aiken County where several bank robberies have occurred lately.

Earlier today two brothers – one from North Augusta, the other from Atlanta – learned what can happen if you have guns visible in your car in a bank parking lot, even if you’re legally approved to carry them.

Someone just might call police.

“Everybody took it for the real deal,” Capt. Elwell said, adding it was an ultimate example of “Wrong place at the wrong time.”

It all started about 2 p.m. today when Aiken County authorities say they got a report from an anonymous caller of two men with guns and supposedly putting on masks to enter a Bank of America on Edgefield Road in North Augusta.

Swarms of police rushed to the bank.

When authorities got there, they stopped the men from driving away, got them out and onto the ground, then handcuffed them.

Eventually, police learned there were no masks, the guns were legally owned and in their vehicle and the two men were simply trying to make a checking account withdrawal.

Capt. Elwell said his department ended up apologizing to the men, but explained the situation, saying an anonymous caller had tipped them off amid other similar holdups.

“And they understood,” he said.

Capt. Elwell says it probably didn’t help that one of the guns in the vehicle was a civilian version of an M-16. The other weapon was a handgun.

“That’s not something you see your average person toting for self defense,” Capt. Elwell said. “That’s military type arsenal, and to carry it in plain view.”

He said the men were legally transporting the guns, but he told them that next time they might want to consider putting them in the trunk.

“It’s not the smartest idea” having such weapons in plain view in a vehicle while at a bank, he said.

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