By BRIAN HAWKINS
Apprehension of a suspect in the early morning armed robbery of a local business took Starkville Police Department detectives into Choctaw County, officials said Tuesday.
Frank Emmanuel Potts, 20, of 710 Ann St., Weir, remains held in the Clay County Jail on an armed robbery charge in the holdup of Moreland Inc. at 448 Highway 12 West shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Potts is being held pending an initial Starkville Municipal Court appearance at 2:30 p.m. today for his bond to be set.
Potts was arrested at his home in Weir after an extensive manhunt that began shortly after the robbery occurred Tuesday, Starkville Police Department detectives said.
According to initial SPD reports of the incident, the suspect — then described as a black male with a dreadlock hairstyle and wearing a jacket with a red hood and black pants — entered the Moreland Inc. offices at 7:55 a.m. Tuesday and pulled what was believed to be a 9-milimeter handgun on owners Dan and Sherry Moreland, demanding money.
Mrs. Moreland said she and her husband froze as the suspect drew his gun on them. Both were unharmed in the incident.
“I have been thanking God for watching over us and protecting us because he had a gun right in our faces,” said Mrs. Moreland late Tuesday afternoon.
The suspect then fled the office on foot with an undetermined amount of cash. Dan Moreland then fired a single gunshot at the suspect in self-defense, but did not strike him, said SPD Sgt. Chadd Garnett.
The suspect was seen running north on Whitfield Street, at one point running behind a yellow house, said Garnett.
“Responding officers immediately searched the area around the business and recovered evidence,” said Garnett, though he would not specify what type of evidence was discovered, including whether it included the handgun used in the holdup.
Within minutes of the incident, an off-duty SPD officer traveling in the area saw who he believed to be the suspect getting into a newer model red Chevrolet Monte Carlo on Whitfield Street.
The Monte Carlo was later found unoccupied on Whitfield Street, and police, after obtaining a search warrant, subsequently recovered evidence linking the suspect as well as “fruits of the crime” from the car, said Garnett, who again would not comment on the nature of the evidence found, including whether it was money taken in the robbery.
Using that evidence found in the car, Potts was developed at a suspect and soon located at his home in Weir.
With assistance from the Choctaw County Sheriff’s Department, SPD detectives went to Potts’ home and arrested him.
He was transported to the Clay County Jail shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday after being booked on the robbery charge.
The Morelands expressed their appreciation to the Police Department for a quick resolution to the robbery case.
“We want to thank (Police Chief) David Lindley and the Police Department for being as on top of it as they were,” said Mrs. Moreland late Tuesday afternoon.
The investigation into the robbery is continuing, Garnett said.
Anyone with information about the suspect or the incident is encouraged to call the Police Department’s Investigations Bureau at 323-4019 or Golden Triangle Crime Stoppers at 1-800-530-7151.
All Crime Stoppers tips are confidential and could result in a reward of up to $1,000 for the caller if the tip leads to an arrest in this case or any felony crime.