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Front Page » July 22, 2004 » Local News » Authorities arrest suspect in Helper bank robbery incident
Published 3,660 days ago

Authorities arrest suspect in Helper bank robbery incident


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate community editor


Richard Boyden of the Price Police Department and Steve Salas of the Utah Highway Patrol with his search dog Claudio search the Price River Parkway in Helper Tuesday morning for suspects after a local bank was robbed.

A mid-morning robbery at a Helper bank on Tuesday temporarily netted the alleged thief an undisclosed amount of cash.

But within an hour of the incident, law enforcement officials had taken two robbery suspects into custody for questioning in connection with the case.

At about 5:30 p.m. on July 20, criminal investigators arrested and booked 55-year-old Burnice A. Williams of south Florida into the Carbon County jail on two felony level charges, first degree aggravated robbery and third degree threat against life, in connection with the incident

The alleged robbery took place July 20 at the Wells Fargo Bank on Main Street in downtown Helper at approximately 10:15 a.m.

According to criminal investigators, the witnesses indicated that a man had walked into the bank, purportedly told the tellers that he had a bomb and demanded money.

Personnel at the bank complied with the male subject's demand and the robbery suspect ran out the back door, apparently heading toward the river parkway.

The emergency call reporting the alleged robbery created a little confusion regarding the location of the incident.

The alarm came into the public safety dispatch center as a 911 call listing First Security Bank as the scene of the emergency situation.

Helper Police Chief George Zamantakis reviews the description of a male subject reportedly involved in a bank robbery incident on Tuesday.

The alleged robbery took place July 20 at approximately 10:15 a.m. at the Wells Fargo Bank on Main Street in downtown Helper.

According to the Helper police chief, witnesses indicated that a man walked into the bank and demanded money, reportedly claiming to have a bomb.

The tellers at the bank complied with the demand and the male suspect purportedly fled the scene on foot, running toward the parkway.

Law enforcement personnel from agencies across the county responded to the public safety dispatch to assist with the investigation and apprehending the robbery suspect.

Within an hour of the incident, the authorities had taken two suspects into custody for questioning in connection with the case.

At about 5:30 p.m. on July 20, criminal investigators arrested and booked 55-year-old Burnice A. Williams of south Florida into the Carbon County Jail on two felony level charges, first degree aggravated robbery and third degree threat against life, in connection with the incident.

The bank changed hands several years ago and the automatic identification system had not been updated.

Law enforcement authorities from agencies across Carbon County rushed to Helper to seal off the area and assist with the search to locate the alleged perpetrator.

"I think we had about 20 officers respond," pointed out Helper Police Chief George Zamantakis during an interview Wednesday morning. "It's unusual to have this happen. But it is what we all train together for so, when an emergency does take place, we can work together."

The police chief also said United States Federal Bureau of Investigation officers came to the county to help with the investigation.

Armed officers searched the parkway and areas around the bank for evidence and the suspect.

In addition, the Utah Highway Patrol and Carbon County Sheriff's Office brought in search dogs following the Tuesday morning robbery incident.

"Within an hour, we had two suspects in custody and began to question them," explained Zamantakis.

Both individuals were temporary residents at the Golden Rule Mission, confirmed the Helper police chief.

After the interviews, law enforcement officers acted on information reportedly provided by Williams and found money from the bank hidden in the Price River Parkway.

Based on additional evidence uncovered during the investigation, law enforcement authorities released the second suspect because it appeared the man was not involved in the robbery incident, added the Helper police chief.

Many people in Carbon County have become complacent about robbery and potentially violent crimes occurring in the local area, pointed out Zamantakis.

But the county is not immune to similar criminal incidents.

Once the people living in Helper heard about the alleged robbery incident, many of the citizens remained inside their residences.

Numerous businesses operating on Helper's Main Street also locked their doors until law enforcement officials could resolve the potentially dangerous situation.

Addressing the bomb threat which purportedly occurred during the alleged bank robbery incident, the Helper police chief indicated that law enforcement authorities found no evidence of an explosive device or a firearm while conducting the criminal investigation.

"While I can't reveal the amount of money that was taken, I can say it looks like it was all recovered," concluded Zamantakis.



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