2 Killed, 1 injured during bank robbery
Cairo - James Nathaniel Watts, 29, of Cairo, Ill, was ordered a detention hearing for Wednesday after having been arrested May 15th in connection with an armed robbery at the First National Bank in Cairo that left two people dead and another injured.
According to Illinois State, Police Anita J. Grace, 52, of Olive Branch, Ill., and Nita J. Smith, 52, of Wickliffe, Ky, were killed after having been stabbed during the robbery. Another female, 23, unnamed as of Tuesday, was also stabbed and was in critical condition. She was released from the hospital late Sunday afternoon.
According to the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department, James Watts was brought into the Williamson County Jail by federal investigators on Thursday night after having been charged with illegal possession of a firearm by a felon. This was following a high-speed chase with law enforcement that ended with his arrest on a railroad train trestle in Cairo.
Watts was driving a vehicle that belonged to one of the employees of the First National Bank at the time he was apprehended, which was shortly after 9 p.m. He was in federal court in Benton on Friday.
According to U.S. Attorney Stephan R. Wigginton Southern District of Illinois, Watts had a .380 caliber semi-automatic pistol in his possession at the time of his arrest.
The affidavit filed Friday stated police had responded to a call of a robbery in progress at approximately 5:15 p.m. Thursday. They found three badly injured female victims inside the bank in an employee break room, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit further states a black male had approached three female employees of the First National Bank as they left the bank, which had just closed. He then forced the employees back into the bank. Video surveillance shows the man with a handgun, but investigations revealed he also had a knife.
Surveillance video also shows the man taking the purses of the three employees and then placing them inside one of the employee’s vehicles, which was a 2014 Buick SUV. He then fled the scene. Two of the employees were killed, and the other was left critically injured. The suspect did not obtain any money from the bank.
Investigations reveal that around 6:55 p.m. an officer observed the employee’s vehicle driven by a black male. After the officer began to follow the vehicle, the man led a chase reaching speeds of over 100 miles per hour. The chase ended when the man abandoned the vehicle and ran to the trestle and tried to hide.
Shortly after 9 p.m., officers arrested Watts. They found the firearm in the front pocket of the hooded sweatshirt he was wearing.
Watts had been released from prison on April 29th after having served time for two counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child in Alexander County, where he had been given concurrent seven-year sentences in prison on each count. Shortly before that sentencing, he had pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in Alexandra County. His sentence for the firearm charge ran concurrently with his seven-year sentence.
While in prison, he pled guilty to 11 counts of forgery and had his sentence extended 8 months.
Before being sentenced in Illinois, Watts had been sentenced to seven years in prison for two counts of forgery in Cape Girardeau County, but was given five years of probation. After being sentenced in Illinois, his probation was revoked in Missouri. His Missouri sentence was allowed to run concurrently with his Illinois sentence.
Several agencies were involved in preliminary investigations including the Illinois State Police, the Missouri Highway Patrol, Kentucky State Police, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Cairo Police and Fire Departments, Ballard County Sheriff’s Department, Metropolis Police and Fire Departments, Statewide Terrorism and Intelligence Center, and Alexander County Sheriff’s Department.