An alert witness and an off-duty Charleston County sheriff's deputy foiled a bank robbery suspect's getaway Tuesday morning.
With their help, a man suspected of robbing a West Ashley bank was caught and all the money he is accused of stealing was recovered after a chase and crash in North Charleston.
Authorities responded to a bank robbery at 10:10 a.m. at the First Federal Savings and Loan branch office at 3628 Savannah Highway, which is near Bees Ferry Road.
A man armed with a handgun walked into the bank and demanded money, sheriff's Maj. John Clark said. A teller complied and gave the man cash. He ran out of the bank.
A witness saw the man jump the fence and get into a white car. The witness gave deputies the car's license plate number and then followed the suspect onto Main Road and past Bees Ferry Road before losing sight of him.
Clark said deputies found a car nearby on Greenland Road that fit the description but had no license plate. Deputies were surrounding a house to look for the suspect when, at about 10:50 a.m., an off-duty deputy who was driving a marked cruiser saw the suspect vehicle, with the matching license plate, on Dorchester Road near Montague Avenue.
As the deputy turned his cruiser around, the suspect pulled the car into a convenience store parking lot at Scarsdale Avenue and Dorchester Road. He got out of the car and started to walk away, according to an incident report. The deputy told him to stop and get on the ground, but the suspect got back into the car and drove off, leading deputies on a chase through surrounding streets.
Authorities followed the car throughout the neighborhood before it wrecked into at least two other cars in front of the Charleston Air Force Base gate on Dorchester Road. No major injuries were reported and the suspect was taken into custody.
Kelvin Barton, 36, of Longridge Road in North Charleston is charged with bank robbery. He also is charged with failure to stop for blue lights, leaving the scene of an accident and reckless driving, according to the Sheriffs' Office
Barton was being held in the Sheriff Al Cannon Detention Center pending a bond hearing. Investigators from police departments in Charleston and North Charleston are questioning Barton in connection with similar bank robberies in those jurisdictions, Clark said.
A weapon was found in the car after the arrest, Clark said.
Traffic was backed up for about an hour, but the incident scene was cleared by noon.
David W. MacDougall contributed to this report. Reach Andy Paras at 937-5589, Twitter.com/AndyParas or Facebook.com/AndyParasReporter.
See video from the scene of the crash, go to postandcourier.com/videos.