FOREST ACRES, SC (WIS) - Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy said that it’s “a bad day for the robbers” with one of the suspects hospitalized and another being sought after an early-morning bank robbery turned into an officer-involved shooting.
Sealy said Forest Acres police were called to the South Carolina Federal Credit Union, located at 4503 Forest Drive, around 10 a.m. on Tuesday in response to a bank robbery. When police arrived, two armed suspects - a man and a woman - were robbing the bank. The female suspect exited the front of the building and failed to show their hands after police made orders to do so and proceeded to a vehicle.
A Forest Drive police officer fired two shots at the suspect, who crashed into another vehicle on Forest Drive in front of the bank as additional law enforcement officers were arriving. She was taken to a nearby hospital with a gunshot wound in the arm and she’s expected to be OK. No officers were injured.
Police did recover a backpack with cash from the vehicle the female suspect was driving. The vehicle the pair was driving, a Toyota Camry, was reported stolen from Georgia.
The male suspect fled from a back door of the bank and headed down Willingham Drive toward Gatewell Drive and Daniel Drive area, Sealy said. No one inside of the bank was injured.
The Forest Acres Police Department identified a 29-year-old Florida man as the suspect. 29-year-old Samuel Neathery is described by law-enforcement to be 5‘8“ tall and weighs 170 pounds.
He’s described as a white male wearing glasses and has a short beard. The hoodie he was wearing was discarded and recovered by law enforcement. Law enforcement have released multiple surveillance images of the male suspect.
“[Residents] need to be vigilant,” Sealy said. “Just know that this guy is dangerous.”
Police also released three surveillance images of the male suspect, seen inside of the bank pointing a gun at others inside.
The schools in the area - Brockman Elementary School, Satchel Ford Elementary School, and Crayton Middle School, Bradley Elementary School - were placed on lockdown when the manhunt began. Sealy said the area around the credit union on Forest Drive will be blocked through Tuesday afternoon.
A Richland School District 1 spokesperson said: “Based on information and guidance from law enforcement, buses are being released to transport students home from the five affected schools (Crayton, Bradley, Satchel Ford, Brockman and A.C. Flora) and the schools can resume all other normal dismissal procedures.” Kathwood Pre-School on Trenholm Road was also on lockdown. Police will give the all-clear when it is time to do so.
The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating the officer-involved shooting and securing the crime scene. The South Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating the collision. Officers from the Columbia Police Department and the Richland County Sheriff’s helped in their response to the robbery.
“The thing is law enforcement is still going to be looking for him,” Sealy said, “and we’ll be here all night looking for him. We just want to make sure the public knows to call 911. It’ll either come here, the [Richland County] Sheriff’s Department, or CPD and we’ll have officers right out."
Sealy confirmed helicopters were in the air to help search for the suspect.
Anyone with information regarding the suspect’s whereabouts is urged to contact Crimestoppers by calling 1-888-CRIME SC (888-274-6372) or visiting www.midlandscrimestoppers.com or www.p3tips.com and click on the “submit a tip” tab. Your identity will be kept anonymous, and if your tip leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000.