Lawmen, bank robbery suspects in standoff

LUMBERTON — No arrests had been made as of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in connection with a bank robbery earlier in the day, and a standoff had developed between lawmen and the suspects.

The suspects in the armed robbery of PNC Bank in downtown Lumberton were facing off with law enforcement just inside Columbus County. Two helicopters, one each from the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and the state Highway Patrol, were circling overhead as deputies from Robeson, Brunswick and Bladen counties, the Lumberton Police Department’s SWAT team and canine units prepared for what officers were telling The Robesonian’s staff writer on the scene, Annick Joseph, would be a long night.

Portable toilets were brought to the scene and a helicopter refueling station was established near Silver Spoon and Bill Hooker roads.

The standoff developed after the PNC Bank was robbed and as many as three people fled the scene in a vehicle. The Robesonian was told that the suspect vehicle was seen on Second Street and a high-speed chase ensued and continued along N.C. 211. Shots were fired from the suspect vehicle at pursuing law vehicles.

Burnis Wilkins, a Lumberton City Council member, posted on Facebook that a young man in a black shirt with some sort of “helmet” on his head jumped from the vehicle near Old Whiteville Road and Allenton Road and entered neighboring woods. He advised people in the area to be alert and to call 911 if they see the man.

The vehicle headed into Columbus County and then Bladen County, according to Wilkins.

The Robesonian will update this story on as events warrant.