Britton & Koontz heist forces lockdown at school|[03/21/08]

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2008

A robber not only fled with cash from Britton & Koontz bank on U.S. 61 North on Thursday, he caused a 40-minute precautionary lockdown at nearby Sherman Avenue Elementary.

In what was the second heist of a local bank this year, authorities said the robber presented the appearance of a weapon through the pocket of a windbreaker. The robber was described as a short black male wearing a fully cut ski mask and a royal blue shirt. The amount of money taken was not disclosed.

No employees or customers were injured in the holdup, reported at 12:47 p.m., said Page Ogden, bank president and chief executive officer of the Natchez-based bank. The robber fled on foot, and the Warren County Sheriff’s Department and the Vicksburg Police Department canvassed a wooded area along Sherman Avenue abutting the northeastern boundary of Vicksburg National Military Park. Traffic stops were conducted at Sherman Avenue near the park boundary and K-9 units of both agencies searched the rough terrain. Law enforcement officials theorize the robber had a car waiting. “It’s not likely he just walked into the woods,” Pace said.

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Students were kept in their classrooms for about 40 minutes shortly after officers with both agencies responded to the scene, Superintendent Dr. James Price said. District personnel plan for such emergencies to minimize risks to students.

Surveillance video was being reviewed today, Pace said.

After this year’s only other bank robbery, a Petal man faces charges of robbing a Trustmark branch on Halls Ferry on Jan. 30. The man, Kevin Dale McCain, has been linked to other bank robberies in Texas and Louisiana.

Three bank robberies were reported in Vicksburg in 2007, two on Jan. 6, at BancorpSouth and Amsouth, both main branches downtown. The third was 10 days later at a Britton & Koontz branch on South Frontage Road. A Jackson resident was arrested in the two robberies on Jan. 6. No arrest has been made in the third.

Britton & Koontz has two locations in Vicksburg.