Cliffside Bank hit by robbers
CLIFFSIDE – Law enforcement officers with a bloodhound searched a wooded area here yesterday afternoon for four persons who robbed the First Citizens Bank and Trust Co., but the suspects apparently had managed to flee in a vehicle.
Around 3 p.m. yesterday, three men wearing “old sports clothes” and masks – one carrying what was described as a “carbine” or “long rifle” and two others sawed off shotguns – walked into the bank and demanded money, according to Rutherford County Sheriff Damon Huskey.
Huskey said there were about five or six people in the bank at the time but wasn’t certain whether any were customers. The robbers left with an undisclosed amount of money and got in a light blue van outside where a fourth man was waiting. A man who saw them leave the bank said they were “smiling and laughing,” Huskey said. They were described as white males, he added. The van left on Highway 221-A.
There were no injuries in the robbery, and no new leads were reported this morning.
Officers later found the van about a half mile from the bank. It was parked at the end of a dirt road off the White Line Road near the old Cliffside School and Legion hut, now burned down. The 1979 van was stolen Thursday from Keeter Ford in Shelby, Huskey said.
It had a South Carolina tag registered to McBridge Motors in Jonesville, S.C. but was not listed as stolen, according to the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department.
At the McKinney-Landreth Funeral Home, A.C. McKinney was standing outside waiting for his wife to return when he saw a van turn off Highway 221-A onto the White Line Road.
“I couldn’t tell who was in it,” said McKinney, who didn’t know the bank had been robbed.
“I didn’t think anything about it.”
Shortly thereafter, Mrs. McKinney pulled up behind the funeral home and saw a man “run down in the woods” behind the building.
She, too, was unaware of the robbery.
“I was just curious” about the man, she said, since the woods were “so deep” and mentioned it to her husband.
“Nobody lives on the road,” said McKinney, and “people are always jogging up and down it.” As to what happened to the man his wife saw or, for that matter, any of the robbery suspects — “that’s the $64 question,” McKinney said.
When they learned the bank had been robbed, the McKinneys informed officers of what they had observed.
Heavily-armed officers then surrounded the area — bounded on the south by the Broad River — and called in a bloodhound – Gracie, a year-old dog South Carolina SLED agents had given the county following the recent incident in which two Rutherford County deputies and a North Carolina highway patrolmen were shot and killed.
At 4:10 p.m. an announcement came over the police radios: “The dog has hit something and tore out through the woods.”
Later came the word: “The dog hasn’t done any good.”
Deputy Mike Summers, who was in charge of Gracie, later commented that the dog ”was sniffing but never got anything.”
Meanwhile, information arrived that began a search for another suspect vehicle described as a red-orange ton or ton and one-half truck with a camper and canvas where the tail gate should be. The vehicle — with a South Carolina tag but belonging to a subject in Georgia — was last seen headed south on 221-A in the vicinity of the robbery.
Reprinted with permission fromThe Shelby Daily Star. Copyright owned by The Shelby Star.
Article provided by Phillip White