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Public reacts to bank heist


Jawed Shakir said his wife and four children were briefly at home when two fleeing suspects of a Farragut SunTrust bank robbery were hiding under a deck at his Orchid Grove subdivision residence.

“We’re thinking, ‘Thank God they didn’t hold any of my children as a hostage,’” said Shakir, a resident of 13055 Lady Slipper Lane, about two Knoxville male suspects who were at large for about three hours Wednesday, Jan. 9.

James Rufus Bush, 39, Bertrand Street, and Jason Levi McCurry, 26, Gilbert Lane, were captured hiding under the deck at about 4:45 p.m. No weapons were found.

The capture came roughly three hours after they fled on foot from a red Mazda pick-up along Watt Road, stopped by a Knox County Sheriff’s Officer “10 to 15 minutes” after the robbery, said Michael K. MacLean, FBI supervisory special agent, Knoxville office.

A third suspect, Troy W. Davis, 32, Phillips Avenue, Knoxville, allegedly entered SunTrust, 11441 Kingston Pike, about 1:30 p.m. handing a note to a teller demanding money, which he received, and saying a bomb was attached to the building, according to a KCSO report. No bomb has been found.

Davis, driver of the truck, did not attempt to flee and was arrested, MacLean said. All three have been charged with robbery, according to the KCSO report.

Shakir said his wife, Mussarat, and children ages 14,13, 12 and 9 were at home briefly, after school, while the suspects were assumed to be under their deck before Mussarat and the children “went to the mall at 3:30.

“Psychologically, people are still scared in the neighborhood,” Shakir said about 24 hours after the incident, emphasizing his displeasure about local law enforcement’s performance.

“We are all scared right now. There should be at least some patrol around to let people know that the cops are watching this area. Somebody coming to check on you, making sure you’re O-K. And our children come from school and they also want to see the cop out there watching our house.

“At least somebody should call back — they just caught those people and [they were] gone,” he added.

The suspects were located at the Shakir home, then captured and arrested “on the front lawn” of adjacent neighbors Tony and Tanya Belanger, 13049 Lady Slipper Lane, according to Tanya Belanger.

“I thought it was very frightening,” said Belanger, who added she was warned by a neighbor about the suspects at 2:20 p.m. and took her children ages 3, 6, 7 and 6-months to Anchor Park. “You worry about your kids and about your safety and about a possible hostage situation,” she said.

Belanger said she was planning to go back home when, within five minutes, was advised of the suspects’ capture by her neighbor.

“That actually made me feel more scared than when they were just out there somewhere,” Belanger said. “I was a little nervous about coming home before they were caught.”

Unlike Shakir, Belanger praised local law enforcement.

“There was a huge number of police officers … they were all very nice, that helped a little to allay our fears,” Belanger said. “I actually think they did a great job.”

Donna Passmore, of adjacent Sedgefield subdivision, said her 5-year-old son got off the school bus and came running to her at about 3:30 p.m.

“He said, ‘Mommy, the policeman told us … there’s some men here, and we needed to run home,’” Passmore said, adding her child also talked about ‘the little girl in the pink backpack crying because she was scared.’

A law enforcement officer reportedly stopped the bus upon entering Sedgefield and warned the driver and children of the

situation.

“I don’t think they should have said anything to the kids,” Passmore said. “These are all primary children — the oldest on the bus is 10, 11-years-old.

“It was pretty scary because my house backs up to a big, like, forest, and across the street from me is a big, wooded area, too.”

However, “It was reassuring because the police officer actually followed the bus throughout the entire neighborhood, he went to every stop the bus went to and watched the kids get off the bus,” Passmore said.

“I think everything was handled as well as it possibly could be under the circumstances, with all the woods that we have around in Sedgefield, the different locations those guys could have gone,” she added. “There were several police officers that had been driving past our house … .”

Passmore, and husband, David, also have a 15-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old girl.

Passmore said the family had one thing going for it: Kilo, a 4-year-old German shepherd formerly a police K-9 dog.

Though Passmore said her 8-year-old “was a little nervous about the bad guys,” she added, “I had Kilo with her, so she felt comfortable having him there.

“I have a little bit more security than the average citizen would have.”

Initially headed by FBI agents, the investigation also was assisted by Loudon County Sheriff’s Officers who captured Bush and McCurry.

 

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