Trio robbed Tennessee banks by following workers home and kidnapping them, jury finds

At least three bank employees were kidnapped from their homes after work and forced at gunpoint to help robbers break into Tennessee banks in 2018 and 2019, according to federal prosecutors.

Now three people accused of orchestrating the heists face up to decades in prison.

A federal jury found 44-year-old Antonio Johnson, 37-year-old Travis Jackson and 39-year-old Shalundra Johnson guilty of kidnapping and committing bank robberies after a four-day trial, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee said Thursday in a news release.

Prosecutors said the trio stole more than $608,000 from three different banks in Memphis, Tennessee, over the course of seven months in 2018 and 2019.

Defense attorneys representing them did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment on Thursday.

The charges date to Sept. 14, 2018, when prosecutors said an employee at Trustmark Bank got home from her second job around 2:15 a.m.

“As the victim walked into her home, a male with a firearm grabbed her and pushed her inside of the residence. The victim was zip-tied and taken to the bank to complete the robbery where approximately $73,400 was taken,” prosecutors said.

Roughly three months later on Dec. 7, 2018, an employee at First Tennessee Bank was approached in her driveway at 7:18 p.m. prosecutors said, and forced into the passenger seat of her car at gunpoint. The government said she was zip-tied and taken to the bank where she worked, and the robbers reportedly stole $110,435.

In the final robbery, prosecutors said, an employee at First South Financial Credit Union was abducted from her home just over the border in Mississippi around 6:15 p.m. on April 4, 2019.

“Armed men entered the victim’s home, zip-tied the victim’s hands, and demanded keys to the bank,” the government said. “The victim, along with her 3-year-old child, were then forced into her personal car and driven away. Eventually, the victim was taken to the bank for the robbery.”

Prosecutors said $425,000 was stolen from the bank — and that “cell phone records, tracking device information, and evidence” again connected the trio to the robbery.

Investigators determined tracking devices had been placed on two of the victims’ cars to find out where they lived.

A grand jury indicted Jackson, Antonio Johnson and Shalundra Johnson in June 2019, court documents show. Their case went to trial at the end of May, and the jury reached its verdict Tuesday morning.

Jackson and Antonio Johnson were convicted on various counts of bank robbery, firearms possession and kidnapping. Jackson faces a minimum of 41 years in prison and Antonio Johnson faces a maximum of 34 years in prison.

Shalundra Johnson, who was convicted on charges of bank robbery and kidnapping, faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

Jackson is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 3. Antonio and Shalundra Johnson will be sentenced Sept. 8.

Hayley Fowler is a reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking and real-time news across North and South Carolina. She has a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and previously worked as a legal reporter in New York City before joining the Observer in 2019.

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