HOUSTON A fourth suspect in a New Year s Eve robbery at a Chase bank in Pearland was in federal custody Thursday, investigators said.
Larry Smith, 34, is believed to be the mastermind behind the Pearland robbery and a series of other hold-ups in Houston and Harris County, dating back to the summer of 2010, according to an affidavit.
Investigators allege that Smith organized groups of suspects, some of whom were minors, to rob the banks.
In the affidavit, an FBI investigator said one of Smith s heists occurred on September 13, 2010, at a Comerica bank in the 14100 block of the Northwest Freeway in Houston.
In that incident, two men one of whom was later identified as a juvenile walked up to the teller and handed her a note demanding money. The teller gave the suspects $3,478, and the suspects left.
Investigators said the juvenile suspect in the first robbery was later arrested on an unrelated murder, and he was interviewed about the robbery at HPD headquarters on December 20, 2010.
During that interview, investigators said the suspect confessed to the robbery and said he was recruited to participate in the crime by a man called Larry.
According to the affidavit, the juvenile suspect was able to positively identify Larry Smith by photo and said that prior to the robbery, Smith had given him the note to hand the teller.
The juvenile told investigators that, at the direction of Smith, he had robbed a total of six banks in a similar manner.
The juvenile said Smith often entered the banks before the heists to see if there were any security guards or bullet-resistant barriers between the tellers and the lobby.
On November 02, 2010, a Wells Fargo Bank in the 13100 block of Louetta in Spring washeld up by two suspects, later identified as Carl Ray Turner, Jr. and Edward Johnson. Investigators said the two men entered the bank and ordered the customers to get on the ground.
Turner allegedly pointed a pistol at a bank employee who was sitting in a cubicle adjacent to the lobby, grabbed her by her hair and shirt and threw her to the ground. Investigators said he then confronted a second employee and stole his BlackBerry.
Turner also allegedly approached a customer, threw her to the ground, kicked her and threatened to kill her if she moved.
When a second customer walked in and interrupted the robbery, investigators said Turner ordered her to get on the ground and stole $20 from her. They said he fired his gun once, but the bullet struck the ground near where a customer was laying, injuring no one.
Meanwhile, investigators said Johnson jumped over the teller counter and demanded that an employee open the vault. When the employee told Johnson she couldn t open the vault alone, Johnson returned to the teller area, grabbed money from two drawers and vaulted back over the counter.
On his way out of the lobby, investigators said Johnson stole a customer s wallet and pushed another customer to the ground as she entered the bank.
Once outside, investigators said Johnson and Turner approached a woman who was sitting in her parked Chevy Impala with her 14-year-old daughter. The woman said Johnson grabbed her by her hair and dragged her out of the car. She said she was able to get her daughter out of the car before the suspects stole it.
A deputy who was responding to a call about a suspicious vehicle witnessed the commotion involving the woman and her daughter and saw the Impala drive out of the lot. When the woman told the deputy her car had been stolen, the deputy followed the Impala with her lights and siren on.
Investigators said the deputy followed the suspects to a nearby apartment complex, where they bailed out of the vehicle and ran in opposite directions.
Authorities eventually arrested both Turner and Johnson. Investigators said witnesses identified the suspects as the men who robbed the bank.
According to the affidavit, investigators recovered $1,020 of the $1,528 that was stolen from the bank from Turner s pockets.
Agents interviewed Johnson later that day at the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable s Office.
They said Johnson admitted to vaulting the counter and taking the money from the teller drawers. He said he didn t know his accomplice s name, but said the two were introduced that morning at a home where several men who d robed multiple banks lived. Johnson said one of those men was named Larry. Agents said Johnson was also able to identify Larry Smith by photo.
Johnson said he and Turner were dropped off at the robbery scene by a man in a black Dodge Intrepid. He said that man was supposed to be their getaway driver, but when they walked out of the bank and didn t see him, they stole the Impala.
Investigators said the Intrepid was the suspicious car that the deputy was initially called about, and when the driver spotted her, he left the scene.
Turner was also interviewed after the robbery. Investigators said he admitted his role in the heist and said he d been recruited to rob the bank by a man named Larry.
According to the affidavit, Turner gave investigators his cell phone. On the phone, they found contact info for Larry Smith and determined that Turner was in contact with Smith as he fled from authorities after the robbery.
In the Pearlandrobbery on New Year's Eve,investigators said Smith recruited another group of suspects to hold up the Chase bank on North Main. In that heist, 10 people were held hostage, but they were all eventually released.
Investigators said one of the suspects, Raymond Johnson, tried to run out of the back of the bank after officers arrived, but he was arrested in a nearby parking lot.
The second suspect, Samuel Bonner, remained in the bank in a standoff with police for five hours before he was taken into custody.
A third suspect, Wydell Johnson, 17, initially escaped but was arrested on Tuesday.
Investigators said the juvenile suspect from the September robbery and Edward Johnson both identified Bonner and Raymond Johnson as members of Smith s robbery ring.
One suspect in the Pearland robbery remains on the loose.
Smith is facing federal bank robbery charges, as well as other charges from multiple states.
Authorities did not give any details on the circumstances surrounding his arrest.