In 2 days, 2 suspects arrested minutes after metro Atlanta bank robberies

Marietta police arrested John Chavis, 35, of Smyrna, outside a Bank of America on Cherokee Street. He was one of two suspects arrested within minutes of metro Atlanta bank robberies this week.
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Marietta police arrested John Chavis, 35, of Smyrna, outside a Bank of America on Cherokee Street. He was one of two suspects arrested within minutes of metro Atlanta bank robberies this week.

Credit: Marietta Police Department

Credit: Marietta Police Department

For a few minutes, it looked like they had pulled it off.

Two men walked out of banks in Roswell and Marietta this week, thousands of dollars in stolen cash lining their pockets, after what appeared to be successful heists. In Roswell, the suspected robber was picked up by police on the side of the road. In Marietta, the suspect only made it as far as the parking lot.

The robberies were not connected, but authorities in both jurisdictions credited the help of bank employees and a coordinated police response with making quick work of the two suspects’ arrests.

Joseph Matthews, 35, of Lithonia, was arrested Tuesday after he was spotted walking down Roswell Road, less than 10 minutes after an armed robbery at a Chase Bank on Alpharetta Street. The suspect had already left on foot when officers were called to the bank about 1 p.m.

“Initial responding officers were informed that a suspect had entered the bank and passed a note indicating that he was armed with a gun and demanding a large sum of cash,” Roswell police spokesman Officer Tim Lupo said in a news release. The bank turned over several thousand dollars, he said.

Employees were able to provide the officers with a suspect description, which was relayed to additional officers responding as backup. They quickly set up a perimeter, Lupo said.

Matthews matched the description provided by the bank staff, and he was found in possession of the stolen cash, he said. He is being held without bond in the Fulton County Jail on a charge of armed robbery.

John Chavis, 35, of Smyrna, is suspected in two armed robberies at banks in Marietta on Wednesday. He was met by Marietta officers outside a Bank of America on Cherokee Street and quickly arrested, according to police. Investigators believe Chavis is also responsible for an earlier robbery at a Wells Fargo on Roswell Street.

Chavis was carrying “several thousand dollars in stolen U.S. currency” when he was arrested, Marietta police spokesman Officer Chuck McPhilamy said.

“According to bank employees, Chavis entered the bank just after 3:30 p.m. and showed a note to a teller threatening violence if they did not give him $5,000,” McPhilamy said in a news release. “He kept one hand under a towel and motioned as though he was holding a handgun.”

While one bank employee handed over the cash, others activated the silent alarm, he said. Chavis was taken into custody in the parking lot without incident, despite refusing to comply with officers’ verbal commands, according to McPhilamy.

He is also charged in the earlier robbery at Wells Fargo, where the suspect was able to leave the building before bank employees could call 911. He is being held without bond in the Cobb County jail on multiple charges of robbery by intimidation.

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