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Robbers hit two banks in county

January 07, 2006|By PEPPER BALLARD & ANDREW SCHOTZ

By PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

andrews@herald-mail.com

Washington County -

Two Washington County branches of Hagerstown Trust - one in Halfway and one in Hagerstown - were robbed Friday.

Ten minutes after the first robbery - which happened just after 10 a.m. at the branch at 17803 Virginia Ave. - a 19-year-old man was arrested, then charged.

The second robbery happened about 6:45 p.m. at the branch at 830 W. Franklin St., at the corner of West Side Avenue, Hagerstown Police said. That robber was not caught.

At the Halfway branch, a man wearing a mask entered the bank, showed two tellers that he had a gun and demanded money, according to the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

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Col. Doug Mullendore of the sheriff's department said the robber was given $6,639 in cash, which he put in his own bag, then ran from the building, without harming the tellers.

Six minutes after the man entered the bank, employees called the sheriff's department, Mullendore said.

Ten minutes after the call, Deputy Patrick Kemmerer saw Jason Lee Wyant, who fit the description of the robber - a 5 foot 5 inch tall man with a thin build - walking on Moller Avenue and stopped him, Mullendore said.

Tellers had described the robber as wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, jeans and gloves, but Wyant allegedly was spotted wearing only a T-shirt.

"As cold as it was, (Kemmerer) determined his skin was still warm and his stories didn't match," Mullendore said.

A bank sign blinked that it was 37 degrees shortly before 11 a.m. Friday. Some sheriff's department deputies and Maryland State Police troopers walked between the bank and a wooded area that lined a cornfield directly behind the bank. A group of deputies gathered in a circle a short distance from the tree line, looking down.

Mullendore said police found a handgun, allegedly discarded by Wyant during his escape, in that wooded area and found a hooded black sweatshirt discarded in a cornfield near Moller Avenue.

The Hagerstown Police Department assisted with the initial call, Mullendore said.

In Wyant's mug photograph, he is pictured with a black eye. Mullendore said Wyant told police he was "in a fight a couple of days ago."

Wyant, of 12634 Independence Road west of Hagerstown, was charged with two counts of armed robbery, two counts of robbery, two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault, felony theft and possession of a handgun, Mullendore said.

Wyant was being held Friday night at the Washington County Detention Center on $250,000 bail.

The Hagerstown robbery happened about 15 minutes before the lobby and drive-through window were scheduled to close, according to hours posted at Hagerstown Trust's Web site.

Hagerstown Police said a man went into the bank, claimed that he had a weapon and demanded money. Tellers gave him an undetermined amount of cash.

The man fled in an unknown direction, police said.

The robber was described as a white man in his mid 20s or early 30s, and 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall with a light build. He was wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, a dark coat, black gloves and a black knit hat.

The bank sign there blinked 30 degrees at 7 p.m. as police blocked the front entrance with yellow tape and talked to employees inside.

Shortly after, a patrol car stopped near the drive-through window and a man wearing a red windbreaker got out with officers. After a few minutes, police drove him away from the scene.

Detective George Brandt later said police thought he might have been the robber, but he wasn't.

Anyone with information about the Hagerstown robbery may call the Hagerstown Police Department at 301-790-3700, ext. 242 or ext. 253.

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