It was a regular Friday morning as she stood in line at the bank. Then she tried to leave.
She was told she couldn’t. The bank was going on lockdown because the man who had been in front of her in line had just quietly robbed the place.
Moses Scott Priester, 54, was arrested Friday afternoon after being named the suspect in an armed robbery at SAFE Federal Credit Union on Oswego Highway in Sumter.
It only took a few hours for police to find and detain the Wedgefield man. His face was captured straight-on and clear on surveillance footage, unobstructed as he leaned toward the teller.
Surveillance video also showed officers the four-door Toyota sedan he fled in after walking out the bank’s front door with an undetermined amount of cash, according to Tonyia McGirt, public information officer for the Sumter Police Department.
The call came in about 9:45 a.m. McGirt said he was taken into custody about 2:30 p.m. when the vehicle was spotted in the Margie Lane area.
“I was in line behind him, and he walked up. It was just a regular day. He didn’t make noise, and I walked to my teller,” said Courtney Prescott, who was in the bank at the time of the incident.
Prescott, who is the daughter of an employee at The Sumter Item, said about 25 people including the bank employees had to stay inside while the scene was on lockdown for “close to two hours.” All doors were blocked off, and they had to be escorted to the bathroom. She said it was scary.
“They wouldn’t tell us anything,” she said. “I had chill bumps the whole time I was in there. What if he came back?”
She said the man had “acted normal.”
What she didn’t hear, based on what the police department said, is that Priester reportedly told a teller he was armed and passed her a note requesting money.
“The girl, the teller, she was all shaken up,” Prescott said. “She couldn’t hardly talk.”
The teller’s family was waiting outside across the street from the bank at Grace Cathedral Ministries on Friday morning. They didn’t know what was going on by 11 a.m. Two family members said they found out the woman was inside and was the teller targeted during the incident only when surveillance photos were posted online.
They said she had since contacted her mother, who was allowed inside. The remaining three or four women said they would wait outside until the lockdown was over.
McGirt said an investigation into the robbery is ongoing.
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