Second suspect in Bluffton bank robbery charged

tbarton@islandpacket.comFebruary 9, 2012 

  • Anyone with information regarding the Palmetto State Bank robbery should call the Bluffton Police Department tip line at 843-706-4560.

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A second man was arrested Thursday on charges of robbing a Palmetto State Bank branch last month, and Bluffton authorities are looking for others who might have been involved in the crime.

Police charged Justin A. Williams, 24, of Goethe Road in Bluffton with armed robbery and kidnapping.

David Mack Jr. of Bluffton was arrested Feb. 3 for his alleged involvement in the robbery after being found in Canton, Ohio. He faces charges of armed robbery, kidnapping and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

Bluffton detectives were aided by the FBI in using information gathered from the investigation to identify Williams as Mack's accomplice, police spokesman Sgt. Joe Babkiewicz said.

Williams and Mack are accused of jumping the bank president in the parking lot of the branch off Bluffton Road before opening hours Jan. 19.

Police say they forced the president into the bank at gunpoint, then bound him with duct tape. He was able to escape and alert authorities.

The two men could not get the safe opened, so they ran toward Goethe Road, taking about $100 from coin trays.

Several items -- including a BB gun, ski mask, a bag containing the coins, coveralls, the bank president's car keys and video surveillance tape taken from the bank -- were discarded near the bank.

Police, with the help of the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, matched DNA from the discarded items with a water bottle taken from Mack's home on Wharf Street, police said.

Babkiewicz said investigators identified Williams based on witness accounts and items found at or near the scene.

"There was physical evidence recovered linked to Williams, but no DNA testing was done," he said.

Williams was arrested at his home, about a mile north of the bank, according to police.

"The investigation is ongoing and will now focus on others who may have helped with the planning or aided the suspects in eluding (police)," Babkiewicz said.

Those believed to have helped Mack and Williams could face felony charges of being accessories to armed robbery, he said. He declined to provide other details of the investigation.

Babkiewicz did say he was pleased with how quickly investigators made arrests.

"Two and a half weeks is pretty good," he said. "I think the department worked well with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, its crime lab and K-9 unit, as well as the FBI to follow up on leads and make these arrests. There was great cooperation on all parts."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead.

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