Robbers caught within hours

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hours after a robbery occurred the Picayune Police Department, with help from the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department, captured two suspects.
This time Bill’s Quick Stop was the target for local criminals to try and score some easy cash. Deputy Chief David Ervin said the incident took place Monday at about 10:10 p.m.
Through the investigation it appears Michael A. Williamson, 45 of Edmond Mitchell Rd., Nicholson drove Thomas J. Burks, 41, of 40 Lindsey Ln., Carriere to the store the night of the incident. Apparently Burks entered the store wearing dark cargo pants and a woodland camouflage jacket. Ervin said the clerk behind the counter stated Burks came to the counter and pointed at the clerk with his hand in his pocket as though he had a gun asking for money or the clerk would die.
Once the clerk opened the register Burks took the money from the register and ran, Ervin said. No weapon was actually displayed during the robbery and no weapon was ever recovered when the suspects were captured, Ervin said.
The suspects were identified though surveillance video footage and the clerk’s eye witness account. The surveillance footage provided a description of the vehicle used by the driver while a photo lineup provided to the witness gave investigators information to work with on the in store suspect, Ervin said. By Tuesday morning investigators located and charged Williamson with armed robbery while the search continued for Burks. Investigators found Burks later that day at a family members home on Lilac Drive in Nicholson. As Burks pulled into the family member’s driveway he was taken into custody, Ervin said. Burks was also charged with armed robbery. Ervin said evidence of the robbery was found in Burks’ vehicle. Investigators were able to locate Burks at that residence by following all leads in the area and information connections, Ervin said.
The success of the operation was in part to county law enforcement.
“We want to thank the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department for responding to the incident that night,” Ervin said.
Ervin said the Picayune Police Department received a high level of cooperation from the Sheriff’s Department. Most of all Ervin said he would like to thank the dedication of the police officers and investigators who worked tirelessly on the case. Through their efforts the suspects involved in the case were captured within 17 hours of the robbery occurring, Ervin said.
The sudden increase in violent crime has caused the Picayune Police Department to add an additional day and night officer to their patrol. An additional investigator has also been added to the night shift, Ervin said.
“We are working very hard to maintain the security and safety of the businesses in our community,” Ervin said.
According to past police reports Burks has been arrested as early as 2000 in Picayune. In 2003 Burks, 37 at the time, was arrested by the Sheriff’s Department on an uttering forgery charge for allegedly cashing a stolen check at a Carriere convenience store, according to the article printed in the Picayune Item in February 2003. The check Burks allegedly cashed was stolen during a previous robbery, the article states. The article does not state however whether Burks was involved in the robbery. Other previous charges to Burks include disorderly conduct and possession of open beer with the Picayune Police Department in 2003.
Another set of robberies, the Logan’s One Stop and Movie Gallery incidents, also involved residents who have been in trouble with local law enforcement years before Hurricane Katrina. Three of the four suspects involved in the two robberies had previous records in Pearl River County going as far back as 1997.
Frank Bridges, now 41, was caught trying to break out of the Picayune jail in 1998 using a metal mop handle wrapped in a cloth to chip a hole in a brick wall, according to a story in the Picayune Item. Bridges was in the jail at the time awaiting a hearing for an armed robbery charge of Popeyes on June 23, 1998. In 1999 Frank Bridges was caught after he escaped from the county jail twice, once through a jail kitchen window and another time through and air vent in the jail day room, according to articles printed in the Poplarville Democrat and Picayune Item.
James D. Bridges, who was another suspect in the two robberies, was the victim of an assault in December 1998 where young man struck him in the mouth with a semi-automatic handgun. In 1997 James D. Bridges was arrested for discharging a fire arm within the city limits.
Also involved in the Logan’s One Stop and Movie Gallery robberies was Agnes Batiste, who in 1997 was charged with no child restraint with the Picayune Police Department.
No previous charges could be found on Timothy Young, also involved in the Logan’s One Stop and Movie Gallery robberies, or Michael A. Williamson.

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