Bank robbery suspect nabbed

Published 12:04 pm Monday, September 27, 2010

A Vicksburg man who spent cash marked with red security dye at three local casinos was headed to municipal court this morning to face charges in Friday’s armed bank robbery.

Christopher Marcel Johnson, 25, who formerly lived with his grandparents on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard but had been staying in city motels for a month, was charged with robbing the Trustmark Bank at 1020 Mission 66 Friday morning.

Vicksburg police expected him to be held in the Warren County Jail after his appearance in Vicksburg Municipal Court.

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Johnson was arrested at about 4 Saturday afternoon when police spotted a car matching a description given by witnesses after the bank robbery, Chief Walter Armstrong said at police headquarters this morning in a news conference with Mayor Paul Winfield, chief of investigations Lt. Bobby Stewart and uniformed officers.

On Saturday, Johnson had visited three Vicksburg casinos, DiamondJacks, Ameristar and Rainbow casinos, all of which reported a man matching his description had passed money covered in red security dye.

In addition, casino surveillance videos showed Johnson driving a 1997 Plymouth Breeze that matched the description a witness provided after the robbery.

“The casinos played a major part in bringing this arrest about, as well as the citizens of this community,” Armstrong said. He gave particular credit to the witness who saw the robber carrying something that looked like a lighted flare, get into the car and drive away from the bank, and provided a concise description of the car, especially the license plate.

About $800 of the money taken from the bank was recovered, Armstrong said, but he would not give the total missing.

Authorities are looking into several other robberies in the city in recent weeks to see if Johnson can be linked to any of them, the chief said.

In addition to his new charge, Johnson was being held for the Mississippi Department of Corrections for parole violation. He was sentenced in Warren County 2004 for armed robbery of a convenience store. He served five years in prison, Armstrong said, and was on probation at the time of the bank robbery.

He was also charged with felony eluding and destruction of public property in 2009, but was not indicted by the Warren County grand jury.

The bank robbery was the first in the city and county this year.