NC bank robbery suspect crashes during police chase, officials say

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) — A car chase following a bank robbery in Washington ended with a collision and an arrest in Williamston Friday afternoon, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said.

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The suspect, identified as Michael Ojay Branch of Williamston, was taken into custody immediately following the collision at about 3:18 p.m., authorities said.

He is now being held in the Beaufort County Detention Center under a $1 million bond. His first court appearance is scheduled for Monday.

Branch has been identified as the suspect from the April 6 bank robbery of First Bank in Washington, as well as the Friday robbery of the State Employees’ Credit Union, officials said.

Washington police responded to a robbery at the State Employees’ Credit Union on 15th Street at 2:42 p.m. in Washington Friday, the Washington Police Department said.

Police said a man entered the credit union and presented the teller with a note demanding money. The man then left on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash, and no weapon was seen.

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The man was seen leaving the area in a white Ford truck with “Fear This” on the front windshield.

The information was then passed along to law enforcement agencies in the area.

Deputies with the Martin County Sheriff’s Office attempted to stop a vehicle matching the description of an armed robbery suspect given out by the Washington Police Department around 3:02 p.m.

The suspect refused to stop, deputies said, and a chase ensued.

The chase began on US Highway 17 near Macedonia Christian Church and continued into Williamston.

The chase ultimately ended at the intersection of Main Street and South Watts Street when the suspect collided with another vehicle.

All individuals involved in the collision were transported to Martin General Hospital.

Investigators are working with Martin County Sheriff’s Office, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Beaufort County District Attorney’s Office, Williamston Police Department, NC State Highway Patrol and the FBI.

The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending.

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