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4th man arrested in attempted bank heist

Suspects in Wednesday morning’s attempted bank robbery, Marquis McCroy, 18, left, and Kevin Palmer, 17, are escorted by FBI agents Wednesday afternoon. (The Vicksburg Post/GREGORIE REAM)

Three Vicksburg men were in federal custody and a fourth was being held by city police this morning, a day after an attempted bank robbery was foiled.

Kevin Palmer, 17, 107 Arbor Lane; Marquis McCroy, 18, 400 Melrose Ave.; and Josef Buchanan, 18, 409 Melrose Ave., were transferred to FBI custody Wednesday afternoon, hours after an attempted robbery at Mutual Credit Union at Waterways Experiment Station.

The three were arrested within hours after the 8:30 a.m. robbery attempt on the grounds of the federal research complex on Halls Ferry Road.

The fourth suspect, who had not been charged by late morning, was arrested early today, and city police were questioning him, said Capt. Mark Culbertson of the Vicksburg Police Department. He would not identify the suspect or say where the arrest was made.

“We are working with the FBI in Jackson right now,” he said.

Another man, arrested hours after the would-be heist, was not charged and was released, Culbertson said.

Tellers told police they didn’t see a gun, but a .25-caliber automatic pistol was found in the credit union parking lot.

Credit union employees told police Wednesday that four men appeared outside the office at about 8:30 a.m., 30 minutes before opening time, and were first believed to be maintenance personnel. But a teller saw one of the men pull a ski mask over his face, and police were summoned.

Minutes after the attempted robbery, Jason Loboda, a teller at BancorpSouth, was driving north on Halls Ferry and saw three men in ski masks cross the street in front of him.

“At first I didn’t think much of it and then I saw they were wearing ski masks and thought, wait, something is wrong,’ ” he said.

Loboda called 911 and followed the men in his car until they ran into the woods off Halls Ferry Road.

“I work at a bank, so you have to look out for your own,” he said.

The three men taken into federal custody Wednesday afternoon were being held in the Madison County Detention Center on charges of attempted bank robbery and each faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of the federal charges.

The three were arrested at different locations in Hamilton Heights subdivision, across the street from the Halls Ferry Road government complex.

Palmer, whose right arm was injured when he crossed a barbed wire fence around Waterways, was treated and released from Vicksburg Medical Center, Culbertson said.

This was not the first brush with the law for Buchanan and McCroy.

In June, Vicksburg Police and South Ward Alderman Sam Habeeb said the two were responsible for terrorizing residents in Hamilton Heights.

They and another man were arrested after a house in the neighborhood was vandalized. They were charged with burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and malicious mischief in the break-in. Those charges were still pending.

Leon Walker, Josef Buchanan’s stepfather, said his family is stunned by the attempted bank robbery charges.

“I didn’t think Josef would go this far,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “I really didn’t believe it until the police showed up at our house this morning.”