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Bank robber claims to have bomb during robbery

Posted: January 18, 2013 6:30 p.m.
Updated: January 21, 2013 5:00 a.m.
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Surveillance footage from a Camden-area bank provided by the Camden Police Department shows a man who later claimed to have a bomb while trying to rob the Bank of America branch in downtown Camden.

The Camden Police Department (CPD) is looking for a man who walked into a Camden bank Wednesday afternoon claiming he had a bomb strapped to him before asking for more than $9,000.

The suspect, thought to be a 25- to 35-year-old white man, is described as being 5 feet 11 inches tall, 160 pounds, He was last seen wearing a dark blue pullover with a gray collar, a blue undershirt, light blue jeans and a ball cap at the Bank of America branch on East DeKalb Street. CPD officials said the suspect has also been seen on surveillance video at three other banks in the Camden area -- one in Dusty Bend, one downtown Camden and a third on West DeKalb Street. Camden Police Chief Joe Floyd said something seen in the surveillance tape has led investigators to believe the man might be somewhere in the Kershaw County area. He said the surveillance video at the three Camden area banks simply show the same suspect entering and leaving the bank.

According to a CPD report, the suspect entered the Bank of America at about 3 p.m. asking for information about how to set up a bank account. A female employee told the CPD she informed the man what he needed to do to set up the account and the man said that he had the information in this truck, but that he didn’t return until an hour later. The suspect allegedly waited 15 minutes for the woman he had talked to an hour earlier, but she was with another customer, according to the incident report. At that point, the suspect said he would return in 15 minutes, another bank teller told the CPD.

The suspect returned at about 4:30 p.m. and the original bank employee took him into a private office in order to set up his account. When the woman asked the suspect if we was ready to set up an account, he allegedly said no and handed her a note that said he had a bomb with a detonator strapped to him and he wanted $9,500. The employee told the man she needed to call a teller to tell them to bring the money into the private office. After a failed attempt to call her manager, the suspect told the woman to walk with him to the teller and “act normal.” When they both reached the teller and asked for the money, the teller asked the man if he had a debit card. At that point, the man turned and walked out of the bank without any money.

By the time officers reached the bank, the suspect had left the vicinity, according to the incident report. Floyd said the CPD received a phone call from another Camden bank asking for assistance at closing time on Wednesday -- around the same time as the attempted robbery at Bank of America.

Floyd said whenever a bank asks for an escort, they call several minutes before closing time to ensure employee safety as they leave the bank for the day. Someone from the second bank asked for assistance saying there was a suspicious man that had come into the bank earlier that day. That led the CPD to check out the surveillance tapes at that bank and the two others in Camden.

Floyd said he assumes the suspect was checking out each bank throughout the day, but decided he needed to make a move before the end of the day, which is why he returned to the Bank of America.

Anyone with information about Wednesday’s attempted robbery is asked to contact CPD investigators at 425-6025.

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