published Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Gunman shoots employee in bank robbery on East Brainerd Road

HOW TO HELP

Anyone with about the robbery can contact Chattanooga police at 698-2525.

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    Police officers investigate a robbery Wednesday at the First Tennessee Bank on East Brainerd Road.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
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Even for a bank robbery, this one was rare.

A suspect entered a bank in East Brainerd on Wednesday morning and fired two shots into the ceiling before demanding cash. Rarely are shots ever fired in the thousands of bank robberies committed annually across the nation.

What came next made this robbery even more unusual.

The suspect shot and wounded a bank employee. FBI statistics also show that it's rare for anyone to be injured during a bank robbery.

In 2011, a total of 88 people were hurt during 5,014 bank robberies nationwide. Of that number a little more than half -- 45 -- were bank employees. Though a firearm was displayed in about 25 percent of those robberies -- 1,242 -- there were only 70 cases in which a gun was discharged.

The robber ran out of the First Tennessee Bank at 7820 East Brainerd Road and jumped into a white Kia driven by a woman, according to Chattanooga police. It's unclear how much cash he got away with; more than $38 million was taken in robberies nationwide in 2011.

Inside the bank, several employees remained huddled together just before police released them more than an hour after the robbery, which was reported to authorities at 10:10 a.m. Some embraced each other.

The employee was taken to a local hospital and treated for minor injuries, according to Chattanooga police.

As of Wednesday afternoon, police had not released a suspect description or camera footage of the robbery.

Statistics show the South has the most bank robberies compared to other parts of the country. In 2011, Tennessee alone had 79 bank robberies, according to FBI statistics. That was the lowest total in four years.

Most people who rob banks are identified by authorities. In 2011, 6,088 people were involved in bank robberies. Investigators were able to identify more than half of the suspects -- 54 percent.

The FBI also is investigating this case.

Contact staff writer Beth Burger at bburger@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/abburger.

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