Doug Mouton / Northshore Bureau Chief
MANDEVILLE, LA -- St. Tammany deputies arrested one suspect in a Christmas Eve bank robbery in Mandeville, and are now searching for his two accomplices.
30-year old Thaddeus Price of Chalmette is in the St. Tammany Parish Jail, charged with one count of First Degree Robbery. Deputies are now looking for 39-year old Eric Thompson and 36-year old Gregory Jones of New Orleans.
"One entered the bank and gave the perception that he had a weapon," St. Tammany Sheriff Jack Strain said Thursday. "He retrieved the money, and came out and went to the waiting car where his two accomplices were outside."
The Regions Bank location is on North Causeway Boulevard. It sits next door to the Verizon Wireless Cellular Sales location, in the K-Mart shopping area. The Cellular Sales store has glass walls across the front.
"We had a front row seat of everything that went on," Verizon Cellular Sales employee Bill Jones.
Surveillance video taken inside the bank shows a man hand the bank teller a note and receive a bag. Surveillance video outside the bank shows the suspect running across the parking lot.
"I'm at that desk across the way," Verizon Cellular Sales employee Mike Marcus said, "and I'm looking outside and I see a little bit of smoke coming from the bushes, and I see this kid come tearing around the corner."
Investigators said Thursday, that smoke was the red dye pack inside the bag of money exploding.
"We hear alarms next door at the bank. We hear the police sirens," Mike Marcus said. "I look out in the parking lot and you could actually see the dye had exploded and there's splatter on the ground. He was parked right out there."
Adding to the robbers' troubles, witnesses said, the getaway car wouldn't start. A man who Sheriff Strain called "a good Samaritan" gave the men a jump. That "good Samaritan" then went into the Verizon Cellular Sales store, and told what happened when he jump started the would-be bank robbers' car.
"One guy got on the backseat and kind of went ah, breathing heavy," Bill Jones retold the story. "He said he noticed red paint on him but he thought it was just paint, he didn't think anything of it. So he jump started their car and backed out of their way. Just crazy, dumb robbers. You've have thought they'd have had a car that was reliable, but they got away anyway."
The getaway was only temporary, because police said, with all the commotion, several witnesses got the license plate number of the getaway car. That, according to Sheriff Strain, led them to Thaddeus Price.
"Everything that could go wrong, went wrong for them," Sheriff Strain said, "at the right time for us."