Robbery suspect held without bail after standoff Hearing is tomorrow

Ex-Army Ranger may be extradited to Georgia

April 28, 1996|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,SUN STAFF

A suspect in a Georgia bank robbery who barricaded himself in a Southwest Baltimore house for 8 1/2 hours Friday was being held at the Central District police station without bond last night. He is scheduled for a hearing before a U.S. District judge tomorrow.

Ronnie Bright, 24, an ex-Army Ranger, has been charged with robbing the First Union Bank in Norcross, Ga., on Tuesday. Mr. Bright had "trouble" with the bank in 1994, and those financial woes led to his discharge from the service, said Special Agent Jay Spadafore, an FBI spokesman in Atlanta.

A U.S. Marshal is expected to order that Mr. Bright be returned to Georgia this week to face bank robbery charges. The U.S. Attorney's office there is considering whether to place additional charges in Baltimore, said Larry Foust, spokesman for the Baltimore FBI Division.

Federal authorities said they were relieved there was a peaceful end to the standoff. Officers in the Southwest District said the neighborhood was back to its normal quiet yesterday, though some residents huddled to talk about the incident.

Last Tuesday, an armed man hid outside the First Union Bank near Atlanta, grabbed the first employee to arrive, entered and waited for six other employees to come, police said.

For about an hour, the manheld the employees hostage while threatening to use a 9 mm handgun and a semiautomatic pistol. He then took money and fled, police said.

Violence was significant

"Most bank robberies are note jobs," Mr. Spadafore said. "The use of violence and weapons made him a high priority for us."

The FBI got a lead in the case days later, when they learned Mr. Bright had bought a small car. Investigators were also helped when a $12,000 reward drew one person -- whom they would not identify -- to name Mr. Bright as the robber, Mr. Spadafore said.

By Friday, police had discovered Mr. Bright was staying with a girlfriend in the 4500 block of Cedar Garden Road in Yale Heights. Mr. Bright was armed when officers went to serve a warrant, police said.

Authorities feared Mr. Bright because of his training as a U.S. Army Ranger at the 75th Ranger Regimen in Fort Benning, Ga., where soldiers learn raid and assault operations.

Tactical units readied

Police tactical units and FBI agents cleared nearby homes of residents and set up in the streets and in some houses for 8 1/2 hours during negotiations. Mr. Bright finally surrendered about 10 p.m. after a call from his wife in Connecticut.

No shots were fired.

The FBI is investigating Mr. Bright as a suspect in two other similar robberies in Georgia -- at a First Union Bank in Dekalb County in November and another First Union Bank in the Atlanta suburbs, Mr. Spadafore said.

He said Mr. Bright had overdrawn his account at the First Union Bank before his discharge from the Army, but he did not know how many bad checks Mr. Bright wrote.

Investigators said that it's not uncommon for military employees to be discharged because of financial problems.

Mr. Bright had been arrested and held by the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department three times, deputies said. He was arrested April 8 for failure to appear on a Superior Court warrant and was released April 18 -- five days before the robbery for which he is charged, according to deputies.

Pub Date: 4/28/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.