Peaceful towns are the sites of a manhunt

Peaceful towns are the sites of a manhunt
Sheriff Hancock and Chief Hooper
Sheriff Hancock and Chief Hooper
Colony Bank in Ashburn
Colony Bank in Ashburn

Multiple law enforcement agencies from two states are working to track down 61-year-old Wayne Maurice Byrd, a suspected serial bank robber. Authorities believe Byrd and his son are operating together and hit South Georgia Thursday.

"He went over to the deposit ticket area where you prepare your deposit ticket. Wrote a note went over produce it to the clerk and demanded that she give him all of the money," said Cordele Police Chief William Hooper.

Police say the unarmed man ran out of the bank leaving the workers inside unharmed. They later recovered around $2,200 in cash two blocks away from the bank here at the intersection of 20th Avenue and Broad. They believe the robber dropped the money when the dye packs concealed with it exploded.

It happened just feet away from Rayford Lynch's home. "When I woke up I saw a bunch of police cars," he said. "Sheriff Department cars and GSP all in the area of Broad Street and 20th."

Authorities are searching for 61-year-old Wayne Maurice Byrd. They think he and his son robbed multiple banks in Virginia, then headed to Ashburn as soon as they left Cordele.

"We've compared the photos to the Cordele incident to the Ashburn incident and at this time we're learning that both of them are linked," said Sheriff Billy Hancock.

The FBI has also been called in as part of the investigation.

"We know who they are. Just putting our hands on them is going to be the task now before they get somewhere else and rob another bank or somebody confronts them and gets hurt," said Turner Co. Sheriff Andy Hester.

Hester says they believe Wayne Byrd went into the bank around 9:30 this morning, handed the teller a note demanding money, saying he had a gun.

"They have had guns in the past when they've robbed banks. Tellers have seen the gun. The teller here this morning did not see a gun. But he did threaten that he had a gun."

Residents are shocked this happened in their community.

"I'm surprised. I didn't know nothing like this here would happen, not here," said Johnny Hillmon.

"It was kinda scary, you know it hit local like this. Because you're thinking a little, small town, that nothing like this would ever happen. But anything is possible I reckon," said Clay Watson.

Hester says the robber made off with an undisclosed amount of money and he wants everyone to be on alert.

"I would like for the motels or anybody in the public, but the motels especially, if they're not from this area, maybe they've stayed in a motel at night before they did this and if they recognize these subjects please call us."

But residents don't believe the crooks will get far. "I don't know if we're going to catch them today, but I believe they'll catch them. Just a matter of time, they're going to make a mistake somewhere, and when they make that mistake we're going to catch them," Hillmon said.

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