Armed man robs Barnwell bank, escapes

Police are still searching for the person who committed a daylight bank robbery in Barnwell last week.

At about 10:56 a.m., Nov. 25, a man ran into the Barnwell branch of Regions Bank, located at 1680 Jackson St. and robbed it at gunpoint. After getting an undisclosed amount of money from two tellers, the man left the bank on foot, crossed through the CVS drug store parking lot, crossed Dunbarton Boulevard and disappeared into the woods behind Fuller Park.

No customers were in the bank at the time of the robbery, said Capt. Wayne Martin with the Barnwell Police Department.

Unconfirmed rumors circulated that the robbery was committed by three people, statements which Martin puts no stock into at present, he said.

“We only know of one suspect so far,” he said.

Several of the five employees that in the bank at the time of the incident described the suspect as being a black male wearing a dark blue hooded sweatshirt, brown or black work boots, blue jeans and a gray stocking cap. The suspect’s face was also covered by dark sunglasses and a blue bandana, according to the police report.

The robber also wore gloves, Martin said.

“He was covered up pretty good,” he said.

Martin is working with Regions Bank officials to pull an image of the robber off the bank’s surveillance tapes, he said.

None of the employees were harmed during the incident, Martin said.

Once in the bank, the robber pointed a silver revolver at two bank tellers, Amy Kennedy and Kimberly Grubbs, and demanded they hand over money and place it in a dark plastic garbage bag that the suspect brought with him. The tellers noted the man had a deep voice, according to the report.

Before leaving, the robber said, “Nice doing business with you,” according to statements the tellers gave to police.

Local Regions Bank officials referred all questions to its corporate office in Aiken.

The Barnwell bank had been there since 1972 when it was Palmetto Federal Bank. Until Tuesday, that branch had never been robbed, said Barry Adams, a Regions Bank spokesman.

“I hope we can go another 36 years before it gets robbed,” he said.
Even before the bank building was there in the early 1970s, a mobile bank vehicle would park there on a regular basis during the week for Barnwell transactions. That bank-mobile was one of two such vehicles in South Carolina, Adams said.

Within a half hour of the robbery, Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office had two tracking dogs and their teams combing

the area. One dog team and accompanying police officers dodged or stopped pre-lunchtime traffic along Dunbarton

Boulevard as they searched for a scent trail. That dog nosed around Jimbo’s convenience store and the woods behind the Fuller Park baseball field and the Chinese Express restaurant.

Barnwell police roped off the entrance of the bank with yellow police tape shortly after the robbery and removed the door handle to the bank to get fingerprints from it.

Barnwell police did take into custody a man near the Milliken plant about a mile from the bank, but that person was wanted on a prior outstanding warrant not related to the robbery, Martin said.

The Barnwell County Sheriff’s Office had two dog teams, three marked police cruisers and five deputies assisting the Barnwell city police with the robbery, said Sheriff Ed Carroll.

The FBI was informed of the robbery, Martin said.