Ararat, Va., bank robbers still at large
by By Tom Joyce
STUART, Va. — Authorities were seeking information this afternoon as to the whereabouts of two men who robbed a bank in Ararat earlier today.
Shots were fired toward a witness after the robbery that involved a “substantial” sum of money being taken, according to Patrick County Sheriff Dan Smith, but no injuries occurred.
The incident, involving two male suspects, occurred at a branch of Carter Bank & Trust at 4952 Ararat Highway about 9:40 a.m., not long after the lobby opened there at 9 a.m.
One suspect entered the bank with his face covered and displayed a firearm while demanding, and receiving, money from a bank employee. The sheriff would not elaborate as to the exact sum.
His accomplice waited outside and the two sped from the scene headed toward North Carolina.
A witness outside the bank observed the two suspects leave and attempted to trail their vehicle, reportedly a black Ford Taurus. The passenger in that car allegedly fired multiple shots in the direction of the witness, at which time the witness stopped following. The suspect vehicle was found abandoned a short time later about a mile away from the bank.
Smith advised that more suspects and vehicles are believed to have been involved.
The Patrick County Sheriff’s Office is being assisted by the Winston-Salem, N.C., Police Department, the Virginia State Police and the FBI.
The investigation was continuing late this afternoon and anyone with information was urged to contact Sheriff Smith at 276-692-7012 or Patrick County Crimestoppers at 276-694-5000. All information received is confidential and a reward is being offered for details leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Patrick investigators Karen Weidhaas and Brian Hubbard are leading the probe.
City Police Wary
Mount Airy police were on alert today after the bank robbery in the nearby community.
City officers were notified about 10 a.m. of the crime, according to Capt. Alan Freeman of the Mount Airy Police Department.
Due to the robbers’ being seen headed toward North Carolina, Freeman explained that Mount Airy police were concerned that they might also strike in the city. The Ararat, Va., bank has a sister branch in Mount Airy.
“If they didn’t get enough money, they might rob another one,” Freeman said.
City patrol officers were increasing their monitoring efforts in response, with Freeman indicating that banks in Mount Airy also were aware of the situation.
Sheriff Smith of Patrick County could not confirm reports that two black males were involved, given the fact that the man entering the bank had his face covered and no one got a good look at the man outside.
The Ararat, Va., incident occurred one day after a robbery of NewBridge Bank in Greensboro. Although two black males were involved in that incident, no connection has been made between the robberies, Smith said. An undisclosed sum of cash was taken in that crime.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.
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