Neighboring businesses react to bank robber

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Only a parking lot separates the Suntrust Bank from all the other businesses in the Southgate Plaza shopping center, and it has one store wrestling with a lot of "what ifs."

"What if somebody feel like, you know, we'll come to one of the stores and do it? You never know," said Simply Fashion Assistant Manager Cecelia Harris.

Her store sits just across a parking lot from the bank a man robbed on Thursday.

"That's pretty close to home. We got a police station right there in the back. You would never think of somebody doing something that crazy. That's like Russian Roulette," Harris said.

Shortly before noon a man walked into the Suntrust Bank on Gordon Highway demanding money and threatening to harm the bank tellers if they didn't turn it over.

Investigators say he then jumped over the counter, grabbed the money and then ran out of the bank.

The robbery has local businesses and customers shocked.

"It's right in your own backyard, in your own neighborhood. You never think that it would be just as close to walk up and think that earlier it was just robbed," Suntrust customer Michele Thomas said.

"It's shocking, and it's scary, and it makes me worry about my safety," Harris said.

The short distance isn't the only reason this crime hit close to home. Simply Fashion banks with their neighbor, and someone from their store drops money there every morning.

"What if one of us might have been over there doing the drop in the morning? Ain't no telling what could have happened," Harris said.

Just last week the store had a crime of its own.

"A customer came in here. I had a cellphone laying right here by the cash register, and she took my phone and ran out the store with it," Harris said.

She's afraid next time it could be worse.

As the holidays get closer, these women don't expect their concerns to go away any time soon.

"People are getting desperate, and the money situation is tight for a lot of families, and a lot of things are going to happen out of the ordinary," Thomas said.

"I know it's just gonna get worse -- not better at all -- it's just gonna get worse," Harris said.

Investigators later caught the suspect, Eddie Garnett, on the 3000 block of Washington Road.

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