Bank are frequent targets for robbers, but high risk

29-year-old believed to have killed himself after Friday's holdup

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Friday's armed robbery of a Westside bank that ended in an exchange of gunfire with Jacksonville police and the suspect's apparent suicide focused attention on such robberies, and how often they end in violence or arrests.

In the past two years, 29 financial institutions in Jacksonville were robbed -- eight of them held up by two men who police called serial robbers.

According to News4Jax records, Kenny Byrd robbed four banks in the first five weeks of 2015. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Benjamin Held held up four banks in 2016 in Jacksonville and five others along the East Coast. He was indicted on federal bank robbery charges, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said the robbers are often looking for fast cash.

"When people go into banks, they know there is money, thousands of dollars there," Smith said. "It's riskier. There might even be armed security, but they do that because they know there is cash there."

Of 17 bank robberies in 2015, there were 14 arrests. But only three of the 12 bank robberies in 2016 resulted in arrests.

"The cases from 2016, detectives are still working those cases now," Smith said. "If we were to check back a year from now, we will see that there have been more cases cleared from 2016 because they have more time."

So far this year, only two banks in Jacksonville have been robbed -- both at the same Wells Fargo branch on San Juan Avenue.

Police said 29-year-old Terrence Randolph King held up the bank Friday shortly after it opened, then killed himself hours later after taking a shot at officers who tracked him to a house off Ricker Road. That means that only one of the 2017 bank robberies remains unsolved.



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