Law enforcement officials believe they may have solved a spate of weekend armed robberies at automated teller machines (ATMs) along Goodman Road in Horn Lake after an early morning chase and fatal shooting of a suspect.
A Horn Lake Police investigator, working on a hunch, was at the Regions Bank ATM location near Highway 51 and Goodman shortly before 5 a.m. Monday morning when he was approached by a black male and who brandished a weapon.
The investigator identified himself as a police officer, according to District Attorney John Champion at a news conference later Monday morning, and the suspect then fled into a darkish-gray to black-colored Impala, struck a police car in leaving the scene and headed east on Goodman Road.
Three other officers who were working surveillance with the investigator gave chase, along with the investigator in his unmarked car. However, the suspect’s vehicle spun out while the pursuit was on near Sutton Place, a short distance away from the attempted robbery. That was followed by one of the pursuing police cars striking the suspect’s vehicle.
Champion said after he stopped, the suspect pulled out a gun and fired at the officers who then returned fire and fatally shot the suspect.
The district attorney said the officers were working along that section of Goodman Road after a trio of armed robberies at ATMs in the area had occurred.
The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation (MBI) has come in to look into the case, according to Champion, who also said officials believe the victim was behind other armed robberies at ATMs in the area this past weekend.
“The three other robberies that occurred, Friday, Saturday and yesterday (Sunday), we do believe that this was the same subject,” Champion said. “Basically, the victims were approached at the ATMs by a black male who fit the description of this person. Firearms were pulled on them and in one case, the victim lost a debit card and in the other cases money was actually taken.”
The man was not immediately identified and did not carry any identification on his person, Champion said. The vehicle had a Georgia license plate on it.
“There are some things in the vehicle that lead us to believe who he is, but we’re going to have to go through the process of identifying him,” said the District Attorney. “It’s fairly obvious that he was not from around here. There were several suitcases that lead us to believe that he was not from this area.”
While the weekend rash of robberies has been unusual for DeSoto County, Champion cautioned people who use the ATM machines, especially at night.
“In the world we live in now, you have to be aware of your surroundings,” he noted. “Going to an ATM at that time poses a greater threat than if you would when a lot of people are around. Being alone there at that time of day poses an opportunity, so be very, very aware of your surroundings.”
The Impala involved has been taken to Batesville to be processed and Champion said he will wait until the MBI finishes its look into the matter.
Horn Lake Police reported the officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave with no timetable about when they might return to active duty.
Beyond identifying the suspect, the District Attorney believes the case will be finished after the MBI is done, barring any unforeseen circumstances that may develop.
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-420-6397 ext. 240.