Serial bank robbery suspect arrested after police chase along I-40 in western NC

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. — A man accused of robbing five different banks across North Carolina has been arrested, U.S. Marshals confirmed Thursday.

According to the Black Mountain Police Department, officers were called to State Street Thursday due to a shots fired call. They realized the car involved was one that had a license-plate reader hit so they tried to pull it over.

The driver of the vehicle, 46-year-old Kelvin Wayne Simmons, of Concord, had outstanding warrants for multiple bank robberies across North Carolina investigators said.

Black Mountain officers said as they tried to pull the car over, Simmons released two passengers from the car who cooperated with officers.

Investigators said prior to each bank robbery, Simmons allegedly called dispatch centers to report shots fired. Black Mountain officers said they believe Simmons was getting ready to rob another bank Thursday, as he was spotted within moments of the shots fired call, which turned out to be false.

Simmons led officers on a chase along on Interstate 40 at speeds of over 115 miles per hour, police said. They said during the pursuit, Simmons got onto I-26 and was driving the wrong way before he hit several cars.

After crashing, Simmons got out of the wrecked car and tried to carjack another vehicle that had stopped on the highway, officers said. Bystanders wrestled Simmons to the ground and held him until Black Mountain police arrived and took him into custody.

Simmons is accused of bank robberies in Henderson, Iredell, Gaston, and Rowan counties.

Most recently, police said Simmons is accused of robbing First Citizens Bank on Four Seasons Boulevard in Hendersonville just after 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Witnesses told police a man walked into the bank and told tellers he had a gun. They said he left on foot with an undisclosed amount of money, WLOS reports.

Hendersonville police quickly identified the suspect as Simmons. They said he was wearing the same clothes as the ones pictured in surveillance photos from the Salisbury Police Department, and said he was carrying a “Despicable Me” minions lunchbox.

Over the last week, police say Simmons has robbed four banks in the Charlotte area. From Salisbury to Belmont, Mooresville to Statesville, Simmons is accused of walking into banks with the lunch bag and walking out with cash.

Authorities said Simmons keeps his hand in the lunch bag while threatening the clerk, implying that he has a gun. They believed Simmons might have been driving a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Channel 9 learned Wednesday that the U.S. Marshals were assisting in the search for Simmons.

“I think it will put the citizens at ease that the gentleman that was so brazen to go inside a Walmart while crowded with people on Saturday on Memorial Day weekend and rob a bank is now in custody,” Belmont police said.

According to Black Mounain police, the warrants out on Simmons included charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, flee to elude arrest, second-degree kidnapping, and attempted common law robbery.

There is no word yet on what bond, if any, Simmons will receive.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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