The Griffin Police Department initiated a Special Response Team (SRT) response to the bank and the suspect, Cody Mark McCaughtery, was arrested after attempting to escape by swimming across a nearby lake.
Authorities first learned of the armed robbery when Spalding County 911 was notified at approximately 12:35 p.m. of an armed robbery in progress.
“Cody Mark McCaughtery, 21 years old, entered the bank wearing a clown mask and brandishing a rifle. He threatened the employees of the bank and exited the building with an undetermined amount of cash,” said Cpl. Bryan Clanton, GPD spokesman. “As he was fleeing, the suspect fired his weapon and also used an incendiary device that ignited the front doors of the bank.”
As GPD officers were responding to the incident, Spalding County 911 received information that the bank was on fire and that the suspect, who was still armed, had fled the scene and was running toward a wooded area behind the bank.
“SRT officers cleared the bank to ensure that any accomplices had not remained in the bank,” Clanton said. “Other Griffin officers were setting up the perimeter when Cpl. Luke Fletcher and Lt. Mike Natale observed the suspect swimming through a lake near the bank. McCaughtery was arrested as he reached the shallow area on the other side.”
Due to the reported fire, and early concerns regarding the possibility of an explosive device being utilized during the the armed robbery, personnel from Griffin Fire-Rescue also responded to the call.
“We actually responded to the scene due to the report of a possible explosive device being set off inside the building,” said Griffin Fire Marshal Mitchell Cardell. “We don’t think it was an IED - and improvised explosive device - but rather, upon our arrival, we learned that a Molotov Cocktail-type device had actually been thrown at the door, on the outside of the building. This act is still considered arson.”
“Due to concerns about a secondary incendiary device, all citizens were evacuated from the bank and its vicinity while a search was conducted. Coincidentally, a Georgia Tech Bomb K-9 Police officer that resides in Griffin learned of the robbery and responded to offer his assistance,” Clanton said. “He checked the area with his K-9 and called another Georgia Tech K-9 officer to the scene. This officer had a K-9 that is trained to search for firearms.”
Investigators say McCaughtery took the stolen money and rifle with him into the lake, but could not hold both items while swimming. This resulted in the Pike/Spalding Underwater Evidence Recovery Team (UERT) being activated to assist in the search, which included both a heavily wooded area and a marshy pond. While police say UERT members were successful in recovering a large portion of the stolen money, the search for the weapon continued past dusk.
“We are very appreciative for the assistance rendered by the Georgia Tech Police and Pike/Spalding dive team. This was an unusually violent and tumultuous bank robbery for our community. The First Georgia managers and employees acted in the appropriate manner and dealt with the situation as best as they could given the viciousness displayed by the suspect,” Clanton said. “We are fortunate that we did not have any physical injuries to any citizens. This robbery is not connected to the previous robbery this week since we are dealing with two very distinct methods of operation.”
McCaughtery has been charged with armed robbery and investigators say he also faces potential charges of aggravated assault, arson and various other charges with regard to the construction of the incendiary device used in the incident.
He is being held in the Spalding County Jail.