By Emily Le Coz, NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – A man arrested in connection with Monday’s robbery of a Renasant Bank in Tupelo also is a suspect in three prior bank heists committed in Tupelo, Booneville and Iuka.
Brian P. Jones, 35, of Toney, Ala., was charged Monday by the Tupelo Police Department with robbing the North Gloster branch of Renasant Bank on Monday and a Veterans Boulevard branch of the same bank in September.
Lee County Justice Court Judge Rickey Thompson set a $1 million bond for Jones due to his past criminal history of drug and burglary felonies in Alabama.
Jones also is a suspect in the Friday robbery of the West Market Street Renasant Bank branch in Booneville and the August robbery of a Highway 25 Renasant Bank branch in Iuka.
Bonneville Police Chief Michael Ramey said Jones will be charged with that crime after he posts bond in Tupelo.
“He has admitted to the Booneville bank robbery,” Ramey said, adding that his investigators interviewed Jones at the Lee County Jail on Tuesday.
Iuka Police Chief Randy Stringer said his department plans to present charges against Jones to the grand jury and that he hopes to cooperate with Tupelo and Booneville police as the investigation moves forward.
Jones, who has been cooperating, told authorities he robbed the banks to fuel a marijuana and pill habit, according to Tupelo investigator Matthew Wiginton.
In each case, a lone white male entered the bank sometime after 4 p.m. and claimed to have a gun. He then demanded cash from a teller and fled with the money. Stringer said about $4,500 was stolen from Iuka. It wasn’t known how much was taken in the other heists.
No one was injured in any of the incidents.
The suspect was described as a white male, 5 feet, 8 inches tall, with very short hair, wearing a baseball cap and tan pants. According to his arrest report, Jones is 6 feet tall with close-cropped brown hair.
Although the suspect fled on foot in Monday’s robbery, witnesses said they saw him enter a silver Toyota Tacoma with an Alabama license plate. Tupelo Police put out an alert on the vehicle to other law-enforcement agencies in the region.
Based on the vehicle description, Tishomingo Sheriff’s Department deputies stopped Jones later that day on the Natchez Trace Parkway. They found marijuana and pills in his car and charged him with two misdemeanor counts of drug possession, said Sheriff Glenn Whitlock.
Jones then was questioned by the Iuka Police Department in connection with an August robbery of a Renasant Bank branch in that town.
Tupelo Police Department deputies swarmed the bank after the call came in, with many officers carefully watching the busy traffic to see if they spotted the suspect or the vehicle.
The bank remained closed for the rest of the afternoon.