Pascagoula police say this is the car the bank robber was driving, as captured by surveillance cameras outside Walmart. (Photo source: Pascagoula Police Department)
PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -
After several leads and tips, Pascagoula police have arrested two teenagers in connection with a bank robbery inside a Walmart Saturday afternoon. Police say they credit social media for landing them in jail.
Officials say they have arrested two high school students, a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old. According to police, both students are Gautier residents.
Authorities say the 14-year-old committed the robbery, while the 16-year-old drove the get-away vehicle.
The robbery happened at the Woodforest National Bank inside the Pascagoula Walmart on Highway 90 at approximately 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Shortly after the robbery, investigators used the power of social media to post surveillance photos from the bank.
Police officials said as soon as the pictures went up on Facebook, tips starting rolling in.
"If not for social media and news media, we would still be looking," said Pascagoula Police Lt. Jim Roe.
As social media users viewed and shared the photos, Roe said people started messaging investigators with tips.
"We got so many tips; 17,500 views with the initial post. That's what led us to the suspects. People were sending us photos with names attached to them. Not all tips panned out, but the social media led us right to them," said Roe.
During a search warrant, detectives said they were able to recover a portion of the stolen cash. Police also say one of the teens used some of the stolen cash to buy a handgun "off the streets." Investigators are working to find out who illegally sold the gun to the teen.
The teens are charged as juveniles, so their names will not be released. Police would not say where the two went to school, though Pascagoula School District Campus Police assisted in the investigation.
The teens were arrested late Monday without incident and turned over to the Jackson County Youth Detention Center.
The arrests were a combined effort between the Pascagoula Police Department, Gautier Police Department, Pascagoula School District Campus Police, and the FBI.