Bank robber found in Highlands

Pictured above from left are Tavarus Rashad Barnhill and Brooklyn Lashae Simmers.

A bank robbery that started in the Eastern part of the state came to an abrupt halt on Thursday, May 23 in Highlands with the help of multiple agencies.

According to Sheriff Robert Holland, the Macon County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) was contacted by the police department in Greenville, NC on May 23 requesting assistance in apprehending bank robbery suspects who were believed to be hiding out in Highlands.

The MCSO Special Response Team (SRT), along with U.S. Marshals, NC State Bureau of Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations worked together to locate and arrest Tavarus Rashad Barnhill, of Ayden, NC, for Common Law Robbery of a bank located inside a Walmart in Greenville on Sunday, May 19.

Investigators say at noon, 22-year-old Barnhill, entered the Woodforest Bank inside the Greenville Boulevard Walmart, demanded money from a teller – 24-year-old Brooklyn Lashae Simmers, of Greenville – and left with an undisclosed amount of cash. The Woodforest Bank in that Walmart is open noon-4p on Sundays.

It was later determined that Simmers was in on the bank robbery with Barnhill. She was also arrested on one count of Common Law Robbery and Conspiracy to Commit Common Law Robbery.

The MCSO’s SRT team received information from federal agents that Barnhill was hiding in Highlands at the Skyline Lodge. The SRT team was utilized because the suspect was considered to be armed and dangerous.

Management at Skyline Lodge said Barnhill wasn’t an employee nor was he a paying patron.

The SRT spent three hours with the hotel under surveillance at which point Barnhill was identified and found to be with two other individuals who officials say were not involved in the robbery.

When the MCSO SRT team attempted to arrest Barnhill, he fled on foot. A short foot-chase ensued before members of the MCSO SRT team, with the help of MCSO K9 officer Chase and his handler Deputy Blanton were able to take Barnhill into custody.

Barnhill was booked into the Macon County Detention Center on a $12,000 secured bond.

By Brittney Lofthouse

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