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Claremore Man Charged In Kansas Bank Robbery

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Police say Williams used a knife to rob the Bank of America branch in Coffeyville Police say Williams used a knife to rob the Bank of America branch in Coffeyville
39-year-old Ross A. Williams, of Claremore has been charged with one count of bank robbery 39-year-old Ross A. Williams, of Claremore has been charged with one count of bank robbery

Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- An Oklahoma man was charged Thursday with robbing a southeast Kansas bank and killing a bystander during a police chase, acting U.S. Attorney Marietta Parker said.

Federal prosecutors filed a complaint charging 39-year-old Ross A. Williams, of Claremore with one count each of bank robbery, causing a death while attempting to avoid arrest and using a firearm to avoid arrest.

Willie Neal Jr., who was from Georgia, was shot and killed when Williams began shooting at police after the chase Tuesday in Coffeyville, prosecutors said. Neal's age and hometown were not immediately known.

Court documents allege that Williams robbed a Bank of America branch in Coffeyville with a knife around 5 p.m. Tuesday and rode away on a bicycle, which he stowed in the back of a sport utility vehicle before driving away.

2/17/2009  Related story: Coffeyville Bank Robbery Suspect Arrested

Police began a chase that ended when Williams struck a truck. The court documents allege that Williams abandoned his SUV and began shooting at police with an assault rifle. Police returned fire.

Neal, who was nearby, was shot in the upper thigh and mortally wounded during the exchange of shots. Prosecutors allege the bullet that struck Neal was consistent with the type of ammunition fired from an assault rifle.

Williams ran into a wooded area after the shootout and was captured more than three hours later while crossing an open field. He was wearing body armor and carrying a pistol, prosecutors allege.

Prosecutors said they were studying whether to seek the death penalty against Williams in the killing of Neal.

If convicted, Williams also could face up to 20 years in prison for the bank robbery charge and up to 10 years in prison for the firearm charge. All three crimes carry fines of up to $250,000.

Calls to the federal public defenders office in Wichita after business hours Thursday were not immediately returned.

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