Man robs bank, torches car, flees
THOMASVILLE — Wal-Mart shoppers got more than they bargained for midmorning Monday.
An armed man wearing all black walked into the Suntrust bank branch at the U.S. 19 South store and demanded money.
Police said Monday afternoon they might be close to identifying a suspect in the 10:40 a.m. holdup.
Several people saw the man — who had dreadlocks — enter the bank and leave, said Sgt. Ricky Singletary, Thomasville Police Department (TPD) public information officer.
Shoppers also saw the man get into a gray Taurus and leave the Wal-Mart parking lot through a rear exit and drive to Colonial Drive.
“He went to the end of Colonial Drive and set the car on fire,” Singletary said.
The TPD canine unit responded, but the dog did not pick up a scent where the car was found. Singletary said it is believed a get-away vehicle was waiting for the bandit.
The car had been stolen in Tallahassee, Fla. A Florida tag displayed in the Taurus’ rear window did not go with the car.
The interior of the car, which is being processed in the Jail-Justice Center impound yard, is charred from the blaze. On Monday afternoon, detectives had not determined the accelerant used to start the fire.
The fire was hot enough to melt most of the steering wheel and dissolve upholstery on seats. The dash melted, and all windows, along with glass in the sunroof, burst.
On a small piece of the windshield that was left intact, a couple of painted-on numbers revealed the Ford was a 2006 model.
Personnel at the Tallahassee business where the car was stolen did not realize it was gone until Thomasville police contacted them Monday for information about the vehicle.
Suntrust employees at the bank branch said they could not discuss the stickup, which also is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The suspect was armed with a handgun, said Sgt. Melven Johnson, assistant commander of the TPD Criminal Investigations Division.
He forced a female employee to walk to the safe, where he took an undetermined amount of cash.
“We have a possible suspect,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to get identification on the person.”