FBI: Bank robbery suspect admits spree

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

(Go to Patsy’s blog, From the Front Row, to read Memphis FBI agent’s sworn statement about what suspects Robert Shantz and Johnny Harris told him.)

MEMPHIS – The FBI claims Tupelo bank robbery suspect Robert Shantz admits holding up six banks from Georgia to Arkansas.
His alleged robbery of Tupelo’s Trustmark Bank on West Main was the first time he held a gun on more than one teller, Agent Gregory D. Adams’ report states.
Shantz and Johnny Leon Harris were arrested Friday afternoon in Memphis after a Bank of Bartlett branch in Cordova was robbed at gunpoint.
Bank robbery is a federal crime.
Monday, federal prosecutors brought them before a magistrate judge for an initial appearance, where charges against them were explained.
A Thursday hearing is set to decide whether they remain in jail or have bond set.
Adams’ report, posted Monday afternoon on the U.S. District Court’s documents website, states that Shantz admitted shortly after his arrest that he spent most of the money he took – at least $44,000.
Shantz, 32, of Georgia allegedly said he started robbing banks because his taxi business was in financial trouble and “that was the only way he could think of to get the necessary money.”
The report also states that Shantz said he’d never rob a person of “their hard earned money,” but went after banks because they were federally insured.
In all, Adams said Shantz admitted to robbing the Bank of Bartlett, Bank of America in Warner Robins, Ga., BBN&T Bank in Oxford, Ala., Centennial Bank in Conway, Ark., Regions Bank in Marion, Ark., and Tupelo’s Trustmark.
The report says Shantz made careful preparation for his robberies and often looked at multiple sites before deciding on which one to rob.
Here’s how the report describes Shantz’s approach to the Tupelo robbery:
After holding up the Marion Region’s Bank on July 2, he returned to Byron, Ga., where he’d bought a black pickup truck. This time, he had it painted white because he knew a witness had seen it and the police were looking for it.
He left Byron on July 3 and drove to Tupelo, where he drove around casing banks and stayed in two or three different hotels.
He decided to rob the Trustmark Bank at 2402 W. Main St.
About 4:15 p.m. on July 7, Shantz entered Trustmark with a demand note and a .38 caliber pistol in the small of his back. It was loaded with six bullets in the clip and one in the chamber.
Adams said Shantz told him he took the gun because he thought he could get all the tellers to give him money if he had a gun.
He reportedly walked to the counter, handed the teller a note that basically said, “stay calm, do not sound alarm, put 100’s, 50’s, 20’s, 10’s and 5’s into bag. Do not put dye packs and put only unmarked bills in bag. Stay calm and no one will get hurt.”
After he gave her the note, he said he saw a large stack of money. He pulled his gun and told the teller to bring it to him, which she did. Then he pointed the gun at the rest of the tellers, who brought him money.
Adams also claims Shantz told him he pointed the gun at a man and a woman in the bank, ordering them to lie on the floor.
After getting the money, he walked out of the bank, back to his truck and left the area.
From Tupelo, Shantz went to Oklahoma City, Okla., where he went looking for someone “familiar with the criminal underworld” and met Harris on July 10.
The FBI report says Shantz agreed to speak with law enforcement about three hours after his arrest.
From there, he walked investigators through his spree, which allegedly began June 24 in Warner Robins, Ga.
He kept it up on June 27 in Oxford, Ala., on July 1 in Conway, Ark., July 2 in Marion, Ark., where the teller started to cry, then to Tupelo on July 7.
On July 13, Shantz, Harris and his girlfriend drove from Oklahoma City to Tennessee to rob a bank, although he said she was not aware of their plan.
The next day, Shantz and Harris drove to Dixon and began casing banks. They spent the night there and saw the movie “Transformers.”
After eating ice cream near the Bank of Bartlett branch July 15, they went in, demanded money and left after they heard the dye pack “pop.”
Not long after that, they were arrested.
Adams’ report also says Harris admitted to his part at the Bank of Bartlett.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Mississippi could not be reached Monday about whether it will file charges against Shantz.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com