Arrests made in robbery of bank teller

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 12, 1998

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / October 12, 1998

RESERVE – Persistence paid off, as two arrests were made Thursday evening for the Thursday morning armed robbery of a Hibernia Bank teller.

A police manhunt was launched in western Reserve and ended before noon in apparent failure. Nevertheless the investigation continued until twosuspects were in custody.

Willie Brooks, 21, 197 Little Hope St., Garyville, and Morris Davis III, 19,138 Sherman Walker St., Garyville, were each charged with armed robberyof the bank teller and attempted armed robbery of the bank.

“Their apparent motive was to rob the bank,” Sheriff Wayne L. Jones said.Lt. Michael Tregre reported that at 8:12 a.m. Thursday a 9-1-1 silentalarm call was received by the St. John Parish Sheriff’s Office, andoperators learned an armed robbery had just occurred near Hibernia Bank, 105 West Eighth St., Reserve.According to authorities, an unidentified female teller was robbed at gunpoint of her purse and car as she walked to work that morning, with the gunman telling her, “I’m not going to hurt you, I just want the money.”Jones said the apparent intent was to take a teller entering the bank with a door key hostage and to rob the bank prior to its opening for business.

Instead, the teller selected did not have the door key, and the robbers were stymied.

Tregre said the gunman wore a camouflage ski-mask and, as he jumped into the woman’s Ford Escort, a second man wearing a similar ski-mask joined him.

A witness saw the whole thing and followed the fleeing felons as a teller in the bank, who also spotted the incident, phoned police on a cellular phone and kept them updated as to the suspects’ escape route.

The vehicles got onto River Road, turning right to West 10th Street.

Heading north on West 10th, the cars turned onto Railroad Avenue behind the old Godchaux-Henderson sugar refinery and turned again onto West 15th Street, again headed for River Road.

The suspect vehicle was abandoned in a nearby vacant lot, and the suspects fled on foot.

By that time, police were swarming in to cordon off the area from River Road to the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad and from West 14th to West 16th streets.

Despite use of a K-9 team, the suspects slipped the net.

“I feel comfortable I will call back with better news,” Tregre commented at noon Thursday.

Early Friday, Tregre did call back with the announcement of the arrests of Brooks and Davis.

The pair had slipped through the roadblocks, hitching a ride with a Garyville couple with a story about a “sick grandmother” before descriptions of the suspects became available. However, once thedescriptions were available, detectives were able to make identifications and put the word on the street they were wanted.

That evening, the families of the suspects turned them in for arrest.

Bond was set at $150,000 each by 40th Judicial District Judge J. SterlingSnowdy. Neither suspect had significant criminal histories, Jones said.

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