Man arrested, linked to bank robberies in Starke, Hawthorne

Published: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 7:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 7:03 p.m.

A St. Augustine man suspected of committing bank robberies in Hawthorne and Starke in December by using a fake bomb was apprehended in Crescent City Tuesday on suspicion of trying to hold up a bank there, reported the Starke Police Department.

Caught after a short chase was James Lee Early, 51. He is being held on a charge of attempted bank robbery.

Starke Police Capt. Barry Warren said in a press release that after the arrest, Early was picked out of photo lineup as the robber of Starke's Capital City Bank on Dec. 22.

In that case, the robber left a device with protruding wires. He walked up to the teller and demanded $50 bills and $100 bills and left on foot with the stolen cash. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Bomb Squad was called in and later determined the device was not a bomb.

A similar robbery occurred Dec. 28 at the M&S Bank at 6875 S.E. 221st St. in Hawthorne. Alachua County sheriff's officials said they believed it was related to the Starke robbery.

The Crescent City Police Department in Putnam County got a call about a bank robbery 10:09 a.m. Tuesday at the First Federal Bank. The suspect, later identified as Early, ran but was caught by police after a brief chase, Warren said.

Various agencies including the Alachua County Sheriff's Office and the FBI are continuing to investigate, Warren said. He added the FBI has indicated it will pursue federal bank robbery charges

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