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Posted: November 10, 2009 4:38 p.m.

Armed robbery closes Wal-Mart

Suspicious box outside the store was empty

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A man who reportedly robbed a United Bank inside of Wal-Mart remains at large as of press time, but according to Covington Police Captain Craig Treadwell, authorities are confident the thief's freedom will be short-lived.

Law enforcement officials responded to the popular discount store at around 2:04 p.m. Monday afternoon after receiving calls of an armed robbery at the bank. When they arrived, the suspect had already fled the area but had left behind a black, plastic box that he had reportedly told tellers at the bank was filled with explosives.

According to Treadwell, the store was full of customers at the time who had to be evacuated while the Georgia Bureau of Investigation brought in their bomb squad to investigate the box, which was left just outside the store by the soft drink machines. After a thorough investigation, the box was found to be empty.

According to reports, the suspect can be seen on surveillance cameras driving a mid-to-late 90s silver or gray Chevrolet 1500 series truck with a large toolbox across the back of the bed and several bags of rubbish. He reportedly is on camera changing clothes inside his vehicle before entering the store wearing a tan jacket, reddish-brown wig and a baseball cap and walking with the assistance of a cane.

The man, who is believed to be between 50-60 years old, allegedly approached one teller, sat down on a bench in front of the bank for a few moments, and then approached a second teller placed a black plastic box which he allegedly said was full of explosives on the counter and demanded she give him all the money in her drawer. The teller complied and the man left the store, shedding his wig, cap and jacket before leaving the area.

The store was placed into lock-down after being evacuated, an event that could have been catastrophic had it not been for the staff at Wal-Mart.

"The Wal-Mart employees and management staff did a fantastic job," said Treadwell. "I can't thank them enough because without their cooperation it would have been total chaos." He also commended the tellers at the bank, saying they behaved exactly as they should have during the situation.

During the incident, Kelly Cheefeman with Wal-Mart Media Relations said the store would remain closed until local authorities deem it safe to re-open.

"Our priority is ensuring the safety of our customers and associates," she said. "We will continue to work with police and other officials as they continue their investigation and will cooperate in any way that we can."

Along with the store and the bank, Treadwell said that all local authorities, as well as the GBI and the Georgia State Patrol are to be commended for their assistance during the incident.

Detectives are currently reviewing the surveillance video and have the entire incident on tape.

"We are still analyzing the video but I am confident that from the surveillance we will be able to apprehend the suspect," said Treadwell.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the CPD at (770) 786-7605 or online at www.covingtonpolice.com. All tips can be given anonymously.


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