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Posted March 19, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Middletown bank robbery suspect in custody

By Sally Voth

MIDDLETOWN - A Winchester man has been charged with the Tuesday morning robbery of the BB&T bank.

Scott A. Wessells, 25, of 106 Ettawah Trail, has been charged with armed robbery, Middletown Police Chief R. Philip Breeden said. He said Wessells was being held in the Shenandoah County Jail.

The bank, located at 7800 Main St., was robbed at about 10:30 a.m.

"He showed the teller a note, and the note indicated that he had a bomb," Breeden said.

Wessells was arrested shortly after the robbery after a witness -- Northern Virginia Daily chief photographer Rich Cooley -- reported seeing a suspicious vehicle turn onto Signal Knob Drive in Strasburg.

Wessells was arrested at a condo on Hailey Lane, Breeden said.

Earlier in the day, Breeden said the suspect had gotten away with "several thousand dollars."

Later in the day, he said some money had been found.

"At this time, I'm uncertain as to whether we've recovered all the funds that were taken or not," Breeden said.

There were three bank employees and no customers in the bank at the time of the robbery, he said.

"The bank tellers are taught how to react during a bank robbery, and they did exactly as they were taught," Breeden said.

He said Middletown police were assisted by the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, Strasburg police, state police and the FBI.

Strasburg police Maj. Jerome Robinson said a state trooper alerted him to the suspect's possible location.

"He said, 'I've got a tag number and we have a witness who saw him up at Signal Knob apartments,'" Robinson said. "We located the vehicle here, at which time we surrounded the apartment complex, and started going door to door."

The suspect was behind the first door knocked on by police, Robinson said. He said the young man didn't live there, but was visiting a friend who lived there with his father.

After obtaining the man's driver's license information, police discovered he was wanted on two out-of-state warrants, and was detained, Robinson said.

Residents of the quiet apartment complex drove through the parking lot as officers held the suspect in custody. Police had parked their vehicles around a four-door Saab - with West Virginia plates CAPE COD - that was believed to have been driven by the suspect.

Wessells stood in handcuffs by a Strasburg cruiser before officers made him sit in the front passenger seat. He sat there, slumped in the front seat, a black baseball cap on his bent head.

Meanwhile, Strasburg Police Chief Tim Sutherly, other town officers and a state trooper remained on the scene, conducting interviews of a person or people inside the apartment.

Officers peered into the Saab several times before authorities from other agencies arrived.

A Middletown detective and an FBI agent arrested Wessells on the bank robbery charge at the Strasburg Police Department, according to Breeden.

"We couldn't have resolved this as quickly as we did and efficiently as we did had it not have been for all these units working together," he said.

The chief also had praise for Cooley, calling him a "very valuable asset" in resolving the case.

"This makes for a good ending of the day," Breeden said.

Reporter Alex Bridges contributed to the story.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com.

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