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Wal-Mart bank robbery suspect caught

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- The man who closed down Wal-Mart and robbed the branch of United Bank located inside the store earlier this month has been apprehended, according to the Covington Police Department.

CPD Detective Steve Fowler who was in charge of the case, announced the arrest of a Covington man Thursday morning.

Willard Anthony "Tony" Montgomery, 52, of 355 Mountain View, has been charged with armed robbery and the use of a hoax device in connection with the incident which began about 2 p.m. Nov. 9.

Fowler said the suspect is an unemployed construction worker who said the robbery was an act of desperation.

According to CPD Lt. Paul Dailey, the apprehension occurred about 7 a.m. with assistance from the Newton County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia State Patrol.

"He was pulled over at the intersection of Highway 162 and Highway 81, Dailey said. "He was arrested without incident."

According to information released by the CPD, a white man approached a teller at the bank and told her he had a bomb and demanded she give him money. The man had a black plastic case with him, and as he left the store, he discarded the case, along with items he was wearing as an apparent disguise. He was said to be wearing a ball cap, a brown curly wig, a coat, a dust mask over his face and carrying a cane.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Bomb Squad was called to the scene with its robot, which was sent from the parking lot to the entrance of the store where the discarded items were found. Bomb Squad technicians were able to determine the bomb threat was a hoax; however, that investigation required the evacuation and the closing of the store for several hours, as well as the diversion of traffic.

"A lookout was given for a white male, approximately 5 feet, 2 inches to 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 140 to 170 pounds driving a light colored Chevrolet pickup truck," Dailey said.

There was no shortage of video of the suspect as he was seen sitting in front of the bank wearing his makeshift disguise prior to the robbery, and there was footage of his vehicle in the parking lot, as well.

Fowler said Montgomery was caught due to evidence collected at the scene by the GBI, which resulted in a positive identification, as well as video and other identifiers.

Fowler and Dailey had high praise for the GBI Crime Lab in making a speedy identification of Montgomery's fingerprints, thus furnishing a "positive ID on the suspect," Dailey said.

"Very rarely do we get results from the GBI that fast," he said. "It's usually six months or longer. They did help us out a lot."

Dailey said Montgomery's prints were on file stemming from misdemeanor charges locally in the 1970s and in North Carolina during the 1980s. He has no record of other crime.

NCSO spokesman Lt. Mark Mitchell said his agency is glad the suspect had been safely arrested. "We're always happy to assist other agencies in the apprehension of wanted actors involving crime," he said.