Bank shooting worries neighbors

By Dal Cannady - bio | email

VIDALIA, GA (WTOC) - Police cars and crime scene tape surrounded Altamaha Bank and Trust on Highway 280 on Wednesday morning. Vidalia police stated that someone smashed an office window before the bank could even open.

"This subject had broken into the bank and was laying in wait for someone to come in," explained Vidalia Police Department's Maj. Roger Calloway.

Calloway said the man ambushed the first employee who came to work, then a second who arrived minutes later.

"He wanted the safe open for money. But it's on a time lock. He could not unlock it. Neither could the second employee," he added.

Police said the would-be thief then shot one employee, Brent Sammons, the bank's vice president, then pistol whipped the other employee and stole that employee's truck. Authorities found that truck within minutes, just a few miles away on Highway 135 in Higgston.

Investigators are trying to figure out if the man had someone waiting for him when he ditched the truck or if he took off on foot.

Through the morning, a state patrol helicopter and tracking dogs scanned the woods around the truck searching for leads.

Clerks at nearby McCords Gun & Bow said the truck's owner is a regular customer and they saw him just minutes before the attack.

"He came in at 5:55, and I know that because we have breakfast at 6 and he came in at 5:55 looking for something to eat," Rebecca Miller said from behind the store's counter.

She said such a violent crime makes folks here uncomfortable.

"We had a guy from Illinois, a truck driver in here earlier and we told him what happened. He said, 'that's not supposed to happen here'. And he's right," she added.

Police agree, but they think the shooter won't be on the run for long.

"I believe we'll get the results we need. There are some leads we've discovered that we'll pursue," Calloway said.

Even with no money lost, an arrest in this case could make plenty of people breathe a sigh of relief.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Sammons was listed in fair condition at Memorial University Medical Center. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call their local authorities.

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.