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Bank robbery suspects identified, charged

June 05, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- After a bank south of Hagerstown was robbed Friday, police were hunting for a gray sport-utility vehicle.

The SUV that Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore stopped turned out to be the right one, police said.

Two men were in the vehicle -- one who allegedly stole money and one who allegedly drove them away from the scene, Maryland State Police Trooper 1st Class Scott Bare said.

The men were identified as Juan Jamal Johnson, 37, of 236 Rubens Circle, Martinsburg, W.Va.; and John Christopher Thompson, 40, of 9355 Morning Walk Drive, Hagerstown., according to a Maryland State Police news release.

Johnson was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to commit felony theft and possession of a fictitious driver's license.

Thompson was charged with robbery, felony theft, assault, conspiracy to commit robbery and conspiracy to commit felony theft.

Bare said police don't know if the men are connected to other recent bank robberies in the area.

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In less than three weeks in May, The Herald-Mail reported on at least seven banks or credit union branches being robbed in or around the Tri-State area. Not all of the descriptions of the robbers are alike.

Friday's robbery was at the M&T Bank at 10721 Fairway Lane, off Oak Ridge Drive.

A heavy set man walked in the bank about 4:15 p.m. and handed a teller a note demanding money, claiming to be armed, police said in a press release.

He left with more than $3,000 in a gray Ford Expedition with Maryland registration plates, Bare said.

When police put out a radio broadcast of the robber and the getaway vehicle, Mullendore was one of several police officers to respond.

Mullendore said he stopped an SUV matching the description on Rench Road, off Sharpsburg Pike.

He had his gun drawn at his side as he walked to the SUV.

He said his instinct right away was that he had the right vehicle.

"They just weren't acting correctly ..." he said. "They were trying to play it cool, as if they weren't involved."

Within moments, Mullendore was joined by troopers and deputies, according to the release.

As sheriff, Mullendore doesn't plant himself at his desk.

"I'm still a police officer," he said, explaining he often is out on the road.

About three months ago, Mullendore stopped someone accused of drunken driving. He also has stopped drivers for other possible violations.

However, this was his first bank robbery stop since he became sheriff more than two years ago.

"I happened to be in the right place at the right time," Mullendore said.

Staff writer Heather Keels contributed to this story.

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