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Suspect caught minutes after bank robbery

WARRENTON, Ga. -- Less than five minutes after a man walked into First Citizens Bank on Main Street and demanded money using a note Monday afternoon, authorities had him in custody.

Warren County Sheriff Joe Peebles identified the suspect as 43-year-old Thomas Lipscomb Shapard, of the 100 block of Woodline Drive, Savannah.

The suspect was taken into custody without incident following the robbery, which occurred about 1:15 p.m., according to Warrenton Police Chief Jim McClain.

Gary Nicholson, special agent in-charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 7 Office in Thomson said Mr. Shapard was charged with one count of bank robbery. He was questioned at the sheriff's office in Warrenton by GBI Special Agents Pat Morgan and Joe Brown before being taken to the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center in Thomson. Mr. Shapard was expected to go before a local judge in a first hearing as to the criminal charge against him.

"There's a good chance that federal charges also will be forthcoming," Agent Nicholson said, noting that his office had been in touch with the FBI's Augusta office concerning the case.

No one was injured during the bank robbery. The robber was described as white, standing approximately 5-feet, 11-inches tall and weighing about 160 pounds, Chief McClain said. The robber walked into the bank and presented a teller a hand-written note, demanding money, he added.

The note partially read: "This is no joke. Stay calm. Do as I say and no one gets hurt."

After receiving an undisclosed amount of cash, the robber left the bank in the same calm manner in which he had entered.

A teller at a drive-thru window of the bank saw the robber drive away from the bank and head down Norwood Street. The teller provided authorities the information that led to them capturing the robbery suspect less than five minutes later, Sheriff Peebles said.

Chief McClain said he and Officers Richard Brunner and Lamar Baxley along with Deputy Michael Lynn and Sheriff Peebles surrounded the suspect's car, and with guns drawn, ordered the man out of the car and onto the ground. Officers immediately searched the suspect before handcuffing him and then took him in for questioning.

The suspect's car was impounded and examined for evidence by GBI Crime Scene Specialist Steve Foster. He photographed the car in the parking lot of the sheriff's department in Warrenton and later opened the trunk where a large sum of money was discovered in a brown-colored satchel. Many of the bills were stained from where a red dye pack went off inside.

Chief McClain said Mr. Shapard recently was incarcerated in the Putnam County Detention Center in Eatonton on traffic charges. The charges included driving under the influence and failure to maintain lane, he said. Authorities were uncertain exactly when Mr. Shapard was released but did discover that he was cited for the traffic charges on Sept. 29.

Web posted on Thursday, November 05, 2009

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