Two men who allegedly held up a Tupelo bank Monday morning were arrested after leading police on a high-speed chase to New Albany. Both suspects were shot as they attempted to flee on foot after wrecking their stolen truck.
Arrested were Tyrell Hardiman, 33, and Rodney Wilson, 26, both of Memphis. Each was charged with bank robbery and two counts of grand theft auto.
The bank robbery occurred shortly before noon at Deposit Guaranty National Bank’s northside branch, located at 1012 N. Gloster St., across from Shoney’s Restaurant.
Interim Police Chief Jerry Crocker said the two men, who were wearing ski masks, entered the bank with weapons, jumped across the counter and started grabbing money.
Three employees were in the bank at the time, and one customer was at the drive-through window.
Lee County 911 was notified the robbery was in progress, and as the two men were leaving, Tupelo police cars were pulling up to bank.
The suspects headed north on Gloster Street in a Chevrolet Camaro, which was reportedly stolen earlier Monday morning from Colbert’s Auto World in Houston in Chickasaw County. They drove to O’Hanlon’s Dream Gallery, where police said they stole a black Chevrolet Blazer and headed toward U.S. Highway 78 and Memphis.
A Tupelo narcotics officer in an unmarked vehicle spotted Hardiman and Wilson in the Blazer and gave chase along Highway 78, Crocker said. Three to four Tupelo officers pursued the robbery suspects for about 20 miles into Union County.
Crocker did not say what speed the suspects and law officers were traveling. A New Albany resident listening to a police scanner said he heard police relay messages that the chase was at and in excess of 100 mph.
Hardiman and Wilson got off U.S. 78 at the first New Albany exit. A Tupelo police officer pursuing in a pickup rammed the suspect’s Blazer from the rear. The suspects lost control of their vehicle, which ran into a ditch.
The accident occurred about 12:30 p.m. in front of the Mississippi Highway Patrol Department on state Highway 15 North in New Albany.
Police said both individuals ran from the scene, each with a duffel bag filled with an undisclosed amount of cash. Together, the two had 15 guns, Crocker said. Calhoun County authorities said they believed the guns were stolen from Western Auto in Calhoun City.
Tammy Mirifield, an employee of Chevron One Stop on Highway 15, said she heard the police tell the two men to stop or an officer would shoot.
Capt. Russ Witt, public relations/crime prevention officer for the Tupelo Police Department, said the suspects displayed weapons and the officer, who is not being identified, fired.
“When the first shot was fired, both suspects kept trying to get up the hill,” Mirifield said.
Wilson was shot in his right lower leg and stopped. Hardiman was shot in the hip and continued to run. He ran into a nearby neighborhood, where he was finally caught.
Both suspects were taken to North Mississippi Medical Center for treatment. Wilson was released later Monday. Hardiman had to undergo surgery Monday.
The money has been returned to the bank.
The shooting will be reviewed by the Tupelo Police Department and the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
Crocker said both men had extensive arrest records for grand larceny, forgery and drug charges.
Law officers believe Hardiman and Wilson may be responsible for a string of robberies that have occurred in Northeast Mississippi, including two that occurred in Oxford in February and March and another that occurred in March in Senatobia.
In those robberies, two men wearing masks also fled the banks in stolen Cameros and later changed vehicles.
Monday’s robbery was the 12th to occur in Northeast Mississippi since August 1994 and the sixth to occur in Tupelo over the same period.
This was the third Deposit Guaranty Tupelo bank branch to be robbed since March 1995. Arrests haves been made in connection with all three.