By Blake Spires
A 63-year-old Tennessee man was officially charged last week in the armed robbery of United Citizens Bank of Columbia in October of 2012.
Eugene Early Gentry of Lafayette, Tenn., was charged on Dec. 11 through a federal indictment with two counts of bank robbery, three counts of brandishing a firearm during a violent crime and one count of carjacking.
According to the indictment, Gentry entered United Citizens Bank of Columbia on Oct. 15 of last year, brandishing a black semi-automatic handgun, and escaped with approximately $90,000. He is also charged with forcing Mike Curry, UCB’s branch manager, to leave with him in Curry’s 1998 Ford Ranger.
Then, on Oct. 29 of this year, more than one year after the initial robbery, Gentry is alleged to have entered UCB of Campbellsville, flashed a handgun in his waistband, and informed an employee that he would return for money later after being told that not much was on hand. Bank employees saw Gentry’s vehicle as he left the scene, and area police were soon able to locate and pull over the vehicle. As officers approached the vehicle, Gentry sped away, leading to a pursuit on KY 55, eventually colliding with a parked semi, resulting in injuries to Gentry.
“We’ve been working on this case pretty solid since October of last year until the catch,” said Columbia Police Det. Tracey McCarol, who served as lead detective on the case. “We’ve followed a lot of leads, and were able to eliminate several suspects in the days immediately after the robbery, but as time went on that became more difficult.”
McCarol says he traveled to Barren, Casey, Taylor, Russell, Larue and Hardin counties and interviewed nearly a dozen individuals, but that despite having a photograph from the robbery, as well as DNA and fingerprints, that police lacked a suspect until Gentry’s crash.
“After that, it was as simple as picking him out of a lineup,” McCarol said. “We still have some lab work to do, but right now our evidence is solid.”
Because bank robberies are considered federal cases, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is leading the case, with assistance from the Campbellsville and Columbia Police Dept. as well as the Adair County Sherriff’s office.
“It’s definitely a stress relief,” McCarol said. “This has been a stressful case.”
Gentry has not been arrested at this time, as he is still receiving treatment at the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center for injuries sustained in the crash.
“It’s a changing world, and things like this are something we unfortunately have to deal with,” said CPD Chief Jason Cross. “Our police department has come a long way in handling these type of things, and I want to commend Tracey and all our guys for all the hard work and man hours they put into this.”