Robbery suspect tell officers he robbed bank because mom was kidnapped

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, October 26, 2016


LAPLACE — The man who robbed a LaPlace bank in broad daylight under the threat of violence told police he did so because his mother was being held hostage in New Orleans, authorities said.

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre said the suspect, identified as 42-year-old Tracy Bell, claimed “some guys” made him do it, threatening to hurt his mom if he didn’t rob the bank.

Tracy Bell

Tracy Bell

“We called New Orleans police, found his mom and she was fine,” Tregre said.

Bell is being held in LaPlace under a $66,500 bond, charged with armed robbery with a firearm and resisting an officer.

Authorities were especially appreciative of the calm actions staff members of First American Bank on Belle Terre Boulevard displayed during the tense action and aftermath.

Police said the robbery began at 1:45 p.m. Friday when a man entered the LaPlace banking mainstay in a quiet and low-key manner.

The robber handed the bank teller a note, according to detectives, that threatened violence and demanded money. He never shouted or brought attention to himself. After securing the money, Tregre said the assailant walked away without running.

Tregre described the action of bank employees, especially the teller directly involved, as “excellent.”

“They complied just as they are trained to do and, then right after that, notified us,” Tregre said. “Within minutes, we had (a suspect in custody). The bank employees deserve tremendous credit.”

Deputies located a suspect matching the description of the perpetrator near the intersection of Madewood and Bayonne drives, detaining him after a brief chase. The suspect, Bell, is a New Orleans resident. He was found with the stolen money and a pellet gun, Tregre said.

Detectives do not believe the robber brandished a weapon while in the bank, adding the note used was recovered. No one was injured during the robbery.

Authorities are trying to determine if there was a larger plan in play other than a solo, on-foot robbery.

“We don’t know if (Bell) got here by bus, did he drive himself or did he have someone in a car waiting,” Tregre said. “We’re checking surveillance videos and our crime cameras to see if we can help determine that. He asked for a lawyer. He didn’t want to talk.”