Published Monday, October 01, 2012

Third suspect arrested for BB&T robbery

By JOHN A. WINTERS

john@newnan.com

Newnan authorities arrested a third suspect over the weekend from the Sept. 17 armed robbery of the BB&T branch on Jefferson Street in downtown.

Lennard Walcott Simmons, 52, was arrested early Saturday at his residence, according to Sergeant Jim Beneke with the Newnan Police Department. A SWAT team was called in, but Beneke said Simmons was arrested without incident.

"He was arrested through information obtained during the course of the investigation," Beneke said.

Simmons is suspected of being the getaway driver in the early morning robbery in which police fired two shots and arrested two other suspects. The branch is located across the street from the police department located inside the Wadsworth Auditorium complex.

All three are charged with the same counts because they were all party to the same crime, Beneke said. Those charges are armed robbery, possession of a firearm during commission of a crime and two counts of kidnapping. The other two arrested earlier are Cedric Barber, 47, of Newnan, and Demetrius Malone, 21, of East Point.

The shots were fired in the parking lot of the bank at one suspect who had run out of the building and was attempting to escape. That suspect was captured behind the bank as he ran toward the nearby Wishbone restaurant, Beneke said. Investigators also found a fake gun nearby.

Deputy Police Chief Rodney Riggs said two officers each fired one shot at the fleeing suspect after the suspect refused to surrender and officers saw a gun. Witnesses said at least one of the shots fired came from a shotgun. The other suspect was apprehended inside the bank.

Employees were opening the bank just before 8:30 a.m. when the two suspects “rushed the employees and forced their way into the bank,” Riggs said. Two employees were taken into another room and one was tied up.

“They were in the process of taking money when police arrived,” Riggs said.

Police were first alerted by a driver who called Coweta 911 after seeing suspicious activity, Riggs said, adding police were already setting up a perimeter when the first suspect came out.

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