Robbery suspect busted in chase
RANSON – A suspect in an attempted bank robbery at a Ranson bank drive-thru was apprehended Monday after a high speed pursuit with police that ended in a cornfield in Berkeley County.
The driver, later identified as 40-year-old Mark Daniel Haines, of Wheeling, Ohio, was taken into custody by police shortly after Deputy Scott Myers with the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department deployed spike strips at the intersection of Winebrenner Road and Files Cross Road.
He was captured by members of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, including Sheriff Robert “Bobby” Shirley, and officers with the Ranson Police Department, police said.
Haines was taken to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department for processing and later transported to Eastern Regional Jail to await arraignment on multiple charges in Jefferson and Berkeley counties.
Berkeley County Sheriff Kenneth “Kenny” Lemaster Jr. could not confirm if investigators believe Haines is the same suspect believed responsible for a string of bank robberies and attempted bank robberies in Maryland and Berkeley County this month.
“They are working on that,” Lemaster said.
Ranson Police Chief Bill Roper said Monday that, at about 5 p.m., a lone gunman driving a pickup truck entered the drive-thru of the Potomac Marketplace branch of City National Bank in Ranson and demanded an undisclosed amount of money.
“When the teller realized what was going on, she didn’t give him any money, so he drove away. Then a pursuit ensued after that,” Roper said.
After the attempted bank robbery was reported, the Ranson Police Department issued a “be on the look out” bulletin to surrounding police agencies that included the description of the suspect’s vehicle and the suspect, who was reportedly wearing a ski mask and gloves.
At the time, Shirley was on the W.Va. 9 bypass when he saw a white truck traveling west on old W.Va. 9.
“It didn’t fit the description, but my hunch was that it possibly could be the vehicle because it appeared to be traveling at a high rate of speed,” Shirley said.
After spotting the suspicious vehicle, Shirley exited the bypass via the Kearneysville exit in an attempt to intercept the vehicle. As he approached the traffic light at the old Kearneysville Sheetz, the truck, which didn’t have a license plate, passed by.
Shirley then attempted to pull the smaller, white Dodge pickup truck over, but the driver, later identified as Haines, sped up to speeds approaching 90 mph as he fled toward Berkeley County.
“He was passing cars on double yellow lines and passing cars on curves. It was obvious to me then that this was the person that just attempted to rob the bank down there, because he wouldn’t stop,” Shirley said.
Once the pursuit began, agencies in Jefferson County and Berkeley County were notified and joined in. As the pursuit entered Berkeley County, it reached speeds of 90 mph. At one point, the suspect turned around near the parking lot of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and headed back toward Jefferson County, Shirley said.
As the pursuit continued, the suspect turned left at the old Kearneysville Sheetz and traveled into Shepherdstown before turning onto W.Va. 45.
“It was really getting dangerous. I was worried,” Shirley said. “He was doing everything he could to shake us, but we stayed with him.”
As the pursuit reached speeds in excess of 115 mph, the pursuit re-entered Berkeley County via W.Va. 45 where Deputies T.A. Sherman, Myers, C.S. Welcome and C. Merson of the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department had responded.
Sherman intercepted the pursuit at the intersection of Winebrenner Road and Gosling Marsh Road.
Shortly afterward, Myers deployed stop sticks at the intersection of Winebrenner Road and Files Cross Road. The spike strips flattened all four of the suspect’s tires. The vehicle then turned onto Files Cross Road and, after traveling about a quarter mile, turned into a cornfield. The suspect then drove through the field until he reached the edge of a wooded area and stopped.
“This guy was just driving like a maniac. We couldn’t just let him go and we stuck with him. This is one bank robber that didn’t get away,” Shirley said.