A suspect in numerous bank robberies and armed robberies in the New Orleans area and across the southeastern U.S. threatened to shoot at a motorist in downtown New Orleans on Monday before he was arrested by state troopers patrolling the city for Mardi Gras, officials said.
In a separate matter, State Police said, troopers busting up an alleged drug deal in New Orleans arrested a man linked by DNA evidence to the still-unsolved 2013 deadly ambush of an armored truck driver Uptown, though he was apparently never charged in the killing.
The first case involves 30-year-old Christopher Simms, of New Orleans, who, police say, told a motorist in the 900 block of Canal Street that he would have shot the car if it had hit him. Troopers said they arrested Simms about 5:45 p.m. after witnessing him make the threat.
While questioning him, troopers said, they learned Simms had five open arrest warrants: two for armed robbery in Jefferson Parish, two for armed robbery in New Orleans and another for armed robbery in Kenner.
Troopers said they also learned Simms had committed two armed robberies earlier in the day: at the Family Dollar store in the 2500 block of Caton Street in Gentilly and the Liberty Bank in the 2700 block of Canal Street in Mid-City.
Further, troopers alleged that Simms confessed to robbing a total of “at least” 10 banks at gunpoint in Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi. Simms also admitted to other armed robberies in western Louisiana as well as Mississippi in which banks were not victimized, troopers said.
Simms was booked on the active warrants, and detectives are investigating the various incidents with the FBI, New Orleans Police Department, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, Kenner Police Department and agencies in the other states. The second case involves LilBear George, who was taken into custody after troopers said they saw 29-year-old Basin Wells conduct a drug deal in a 2009 Nissan Maxima in a parking lot in the 1000 block of Bienville Street in New Orleans.
Troopers said they approached the Maxima and spotted drugs and weapons inside it, so they detained Wells; George, 26; Kalique Hardin, 18; and Sidney Lebanks, 27.
Troopers then searched the car, seizing three illegally possessed guns, 47 grams of heroin, 31/2 grams of marijuana, two bottles of a pharmaceutical sedative, about $14,000 in cash and a stolen license plate.
Wells, of New Orleans, was booked on possessing and intending to distribute heroin. George, of New Orleans, and Hardin, of Hinesville, Georgia, were booked on possessing and intending to distribute heroin, possessing marijuana, possessing a gun with a controlled dangerous substance and possessing stolen property.
Lebanks, of New Orleans, was booked on heroin possession, possession of a firearm with a controlled dangerous substance and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
In 2014, federal court filings said DNA lifted from a screwdriver linked George to an SUV driven by a masked gunman in the Dec. 18, 2013, holdup that left Loomis armored truck driver Hector Trochez dead outside the Chase Bank at South Carrollton and South Claiborne avenues. But it did not appear Tuesday that George was ever booked in connection with the incident.
Trooper Melissa Matey said Simms’ arrest was unrelated to that of George and the other men.
—Staff writer Ramon Antonio Vargas