Authorities are now deciding whether to prosecute Darricus Terrell Turner, 28, of Decatur, who likely faces armed robbery and aggravated assault charges, in the federal or state court system. Around 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Turner, who was wearing a mask, allegedly held two tellers at gunpoint, ordering them to empty cash drawers, at the former Crescent Bank & Trust at 21 Eagle Parkway in Adairsville.
APD Lt. Robert Jones said Turner allegedly cased the bank, as witnesses reported seeing his older-model gold Mercedes Benz driving around the bank earlier Thursday.
"He just said he needed some money. He just walked in with the gun, ordered everybody to the ground -- it was just [four] employees in there," Jones said. "He said he needed some money and decided he was going to rob a bank. Inside the car, we were able to recover the [12-gauge shotgun], the money and some other things.
"He actually pulled the car up to the bank and jumped out of the car and went in and robbed it."
With witness descriptions of the vehicle, authorities within minutes issued a "be on the lookout." Bartow County Sheriff's Office deputies, who Sheriff Clark Millsap said "went straight to [Interstate] 75," spotted the car in a southbound lane at exit 296 and the chase ensued, reaching speeds of more than 100 mph. The vehicle exited the interstate at Ga. 20 and continued down a dirt road leading to Noel Christmas Tree Farm near Cracker Barrel.
Turner then allegedly fled on foot at the end of the gravel road, leaving the firearm and money inside the car, which was parked at a cell phone tower. Millsap said deputies searching the woods on the Rollins property spotted Turner on foot, tracked him and made the arrest.
Deputies charged Turner with felony fleeing or attempting to elude an officer. According to the BCSO incident report, Atlanta police had outstanding warrants on Turner for other "forcible" felonies, including aggravated assault, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
After second bank robbery, is crime in Bartow on the rise?
Thursday's bank robbery makes two such crimes in Adairsville in two weeks. Following the armed robbery of a Calhoun bank and high-speed chase that ended Sept. 14 in Cartersville, Craig Robinson, 28, of Atlanta, allegedly admitted to two bank robberies, including the Sept. 10 armed holdup of Adairsville's Bank of the Ozarks at 7450 Adairsville Highway.
Jones said the two Adairsville banks recently hit by armed robbers are less than 100 yards apart, both just off Ga. 140.
"I don't know if [the two suspects] are linked to Adairsville or if they're more trying to target outside the inner city, pick the more rural communities," Jones said. "We haven't found any connection between the two. Our banks are so close to the interstate, you could come off the interstate, be at the bank and be back on the interstate in 2 or 3 minutes. It's really nothing more than it's more of a convenience-type thing than they are connected or they're targeting Adairsville in particular."
In addition, local law enforcement authorities recently received reports of other robberies, including a man who said he was robbed of his cash at knifepoint at a local motel and a couple who reported two men held them at gunpoint and took money.
"We're seeing an increase in everything because of the economy. People are getting desperate to find ways to pay their bills. There's no framing of houses out there, there's no electrical work, no plumbing work. The day laborers who count on their paychecks on Friday are not getting paychecks anymore and people are getting desperate and they're turning to crime, which is sad, and it makes our jobs even harder," Millsap said. "Just take for instance, [the bank robber Thursday] walked in there with a 12-gauge shotgun and it could have turned ugly real quick.
"And the [suspected bank robber] two weeks ago had a handgun. It's getting bad and people are just desperate to pay their bills, they don't want to lose what they've got. They don't want to have to give things back and it's just getting desperate."
Millsap said BCSO has seen a jump in the number of thefts, burglaries, home invasions and what seems to be a recent rash of robberies, but he and Cartersville Police Department Chief Tommy Culpepper say the problem is not yet epidemic.
"Obviously crime does go up and down and I think sometimes things hit the news, [but] without really looking at the statistics -- it seems like right now there may have been a few incidents that we haven't had for some time but I think when you look at it over the long haul, it's fairly consistent on the types of crime we're having," Culpepper said. "At this point we're not alarmed that there's some significant spike in those types of crimes. We're aware they are occurring and when they occur because we see a pattern of them not occurring for a while then we have something occur. You can attribute that to a number of things. Most often I think it's probably that there are just people who choose to commit crimes and then you have situations driven by economic pressures. Most often I think that's where you see forgery, embezzlement, that sort of thing."
To deal with the possibility robbery crimes will happen in their jurisdictions, both Millsap and Culpepper said they have increased more aggressive patrols in high-crime areas or in districts they feel could be more susceptible to criminal activity. Jones said APD would patrol the city's banks more.
"But basically the banks have got to develop some more inner security as well," Jones said. "There's ways to deter that and that's [to] hire an off-duty officer to work the bank, park patrol cars out in front. There's some security measures they can go through with metal detectors they can place in doors.
"The only thing we can really do is patrol the area more and try to train our guys to be more cognizant of suspicious vehicles lingering around the bank and things like that and we're definitely going to address those issues too and we're going to try to get some training up on that."
Millsap added that all businesses should take precautions, including limiting the number of posters that cover windows and keeping doors locked with the use of night windows to serve customers.
"Make sure that law enforcement officer who pulls into the parking lot has a clear view of the cashier where the cash register is," Millsap said. "They could go so far as to put up the bullet-proof glass where the counter is so [criminals] can't get access to it. ... Just whatever they think they can do to safeguard themselves, they need to do it."