Authorities said they caught a bank robbery suspect red-handed -- and with bundles of money in his pockets -- after a red dye pack exploded on him Tuesday as he ran from a West Ashley bank.
Charleston County sheriff's investigators charged Sean Saxby, 39, of Walterboro with bank robbery. Deputies said he robbed the Carolina First Bank at 852 Orleans Road about noon, and might be responsible for two other bank robberies and an attempted bank robbery over the weekend.
Tuesday's robbery marked the 13th time a Lowcountry bank has been robbed this month, which is more than half of the 24 bank robberies all year.
The suspect in Tuesday's robbery passed a teller a note, then ran out with bundles of money that had a dye pack tucked inside. The dye pack exploded as he crossed the street, causing him to drop a bag of money covered in red dye, Maj. John Clark said.
Witnesses told deputies and Charleston police officers responding to the scene that they saw the suspect drive away in a green Ford Explorer with temporary tags.
Deputies on patrol in the Ravenel area pulled the vehicle over about 12:20 p.m. after they spotted it heading south on U.S. Highway 17 near S.C. Highway 165.
Clark said the suspect surrendered without incident. Deputies did not find a gun, he said.
Saxby was taken to the Sheriff's Office to be interviewed by deputies and FBI agents. They were joined by Charleston police and St. George police investigators, who were eager to find out if he had a role in weekend bank robberies in their jurisdictions.
Clark said Saxby is a possible suspect in similar robberies that happened at a St. George bank on Friday, a Wachovia Bank at 1305 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. and an attempted bank robbery at a Bank of America at 1806 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. As of Tuesday he was charged only with the Carolina First robbery, Clark said.
Saxby does not have a criminal history in South Carolina, according to a State Law Enforcement Division criminal history check.
Clark said the Sheriff's Office and Charleston police had patrols concentrated on that area following Saturday's robberies.