Police are following up on more than 100 tips in hopes of locating the man who robbed First Community Bank in Hardy at gunpoint Aug. 8.
"We've had calls constantly coming in," Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver said. "We looked at some possible suspects in eastern Arkansas and even had two to three calls about a suspect in Independence County. We're getting a lot of response through the public. We're taking the time to check them out and rule them out and then moving on."
Hardy Police Chief Ernie Rose said calls have come in from as far away as Nevada. He and investigators have been working until 8 to 10 p.m. each night going through the tips, he said. So many tips came in from Missouri that an officer was stationed in the state until 9 p.m. Friday, he said.
Police are working to enhance the photographs of the robber taken from surveillance cameras inside the bank. Rose said he hopes the enhancement will allow investigators and the public to get a better view of the man they are looking for.
Surveillance tape captured the photograph of the robber. Those photographs have been sent to departments throughout the state and into neighboring states, Weaver said. There are people of interest, but no suspects have been named and no charges have been filed.
The robber was wearing a black T-shirt with white lettering over the left chest area and larger white writing across the back. He was wearing blue jeans and white tennis shoes.
The man, thought to be in his mid 30s, is described as having short dark hair and a mustache. He has "lots of tattoos" on both of his forearms and possibly another tattoo under his left eye that was covered by a Band-Aid, Weaver said.
"We've had some good tips that came in that were real close look-alikes. Hopefully if we get photographs to enough people someone will recognize him, " he said.
Rose said he hopes the enhanced photograph will allow investigators to get a better look at the tattoos on the robber, which are useful in identifying suspects.
"At this time no one has recognized him as being a local," Rose said, adding that a local robber most likely would have covered his face during the robbery.
The man entered the bank's front entrance on Main Street around 9:15 a.m. The man threatened a teller, displayed a semi-automatic pistol and demanded she fill a yellow plastic grocery bag, thought to be from Dollar General, with an unspecified amount of cash.
After receiving the bag of cash he made another threatening statement to the teller and fled out the front door on foot heading east on Main Street.
The teller pushed the panic button and another employee called 9-1-1 while the teller called Rose, who was next door at a service station, on his cell phone. The call came in to Central Dispatch at 9:18 a.m.
"I thought it was a joke," Rose said. "I couldn't believe it happened."
Rose said he didn't notice anything out of the ordinary at the time of the robbery. He wasn't alone. Local merchants also reported little activity. The only tip investigators received was of a suspicious vehicle that had been parked near Main Street earlier. A mid 1990s tan Buick or Oldsmobile had been parked behind a Hardy leather shop near the bank Sunday and Monday; however, the car was not found parked there Monday night or Tuesday morning, Rose said.
Police watched traffic on Highway 62/412 in Fulton County near Ash Flat, in Mammoth Spring on Highway 63, in Lawrence County near Ravenden on 63 and on Highway 56 in Izard County for six to eight hours in hopes of locating the robber, Rose said.
Hardy police, the Sharp County Sheriff's Office, the Arkansas State Police and the FBI are working together on the investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Hardy Police Department at 870-856-2136, Sharp County Sheriff's Office at 870-994-7356, Arkansas State Police at 870-935-7302 or the FBI at 870-932-0700.