Bank robbery foiled

Published 11:10 am Sunday, June 1, 2014

HOBBSVILLE – A timely tip is credited with foiling plans to rob a bank here Tuesday.

Gates County Sheriff Ed Webb reported the arrests of three men, all facing conspiracy and weapons charges. Arrested were:

Vernon Patterson, 46, of Wildcat Road, Edenton. He was charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

John Taylor, 33 of Rivers Road, Elizabeth City; and James Boyd, 30, of Weeksville Road, Elizabeth City, were both charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of a stolen firearm, and carrying a concealed weapon.

Each man was given a $100,000 bond and all three are still incarcerated in separate jails in the local area.

Webb said the arrests were linked to a tip received by his office from the Elizabeth City Police Department.

“Captain Young with their Gangs and Narcotics Division advised us Tuesday morning that a bank robbery may occur that day in our county,” Webb said. “We immediately contacted all of our banks (Southern in Gatesville; First Citizens in Sunbury; and PNC in Hobbsville) as well as the State Employees Credit Union to put them on alert.”

Meanwhile, Webb rallied his deputies, even to the point of calling in extra officers.

“We were able to station an unmarked police vehicle at each of our banks and at the credit union, while the rest of us began to patrol the roads in and around Gatesville, Sunbury and Hobbsville,” Webb said.

Webb added that by mid-morning, additional information was shared concerning the number of possible suspects (three) and that they be traveling in a green, older model Nissan passenger car that was en route from Elizabeth City to Gates County.

As it turned out, that information was very reliable.

“It was around 10 a.m. that myself and another officer were patrolling the roads near Hobbsville at which time we observed a vehicle matching that description, and there was a driver and two passengers,” Webb said. “Because I was driving an unmarked vehicle, they ignored me, but I could clearly see the two passengers both wearing ski masks.”

Webb said the suspect vehicle, “slowly drove past Hobbsville PNC in an effort, in my opinion, to observe activity.”

Based on the information at hand and his observations, Webb made the decision to perform a felony traffic stop, at the intersection of Hobbsville and Trotman roads, while back-up units rolled his way.

“We were able to get the suspects out of the vehicle without incident and received permission from the driver to search the vehicle,” Webb stated. “We found two ski masks, duct tape, a knife, a .380 caliber pistol and a toy pistol that was wrapped to look like the real thing. One of the suspects also had a trash bag folded in his back pocket.”

After learning their identity and performing a criminal records check, Webb said there was enough to detain the three suspects on the felony possession of a firearm charge.

“Initially, none of the three would confess to planning to rob a bank, but later, under questioning by the FBI, one of the three did confess, leading us to charge all three with conspiracy as well as the other charges.”

Webb praised the efforts of his department and others that took part in helping to make the arrests.

“It was a team effort, beginning with the tip from the Elizabeth City Police, then to the cooperation shown by our banks,” he said. “We were able to solicit help from the Ahoskie Police Department and the Perquimans County Sheriff’s Office. The key in all this was that no one was hurt.”

Webb personally thanked his officers – Brandon Hawks, Al Parker, Stephen White, Robert Jordan, Ray Freeman and Brian Johnson, along with K-9 “Kira.” He also thanked Gates County Emergency Management Director Billy Winn for being on standby.

“I proud of my guys; they all performed a great job in their sworn duty to protect and serve the citizens of Gates County,” Webb concluded.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal