Fayette bank robbery handled in state court

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 11, 2001

FAYETTE – The case of two ministers charged with the armed robbery of a bank in downtown Fayette is being investigated by state prosecutors in Jefferson County.

District Attorney Alexander Martin said his office received the case file last week and his staff is in the process of reviewing the case.

&uot;The next step will be a decision on whether to present it to a grand jury,&uot; Martin said.

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Former Natchez minister, Jimmy E. Hargrave, 39, turned himself to a Georgia law enforcement agency the day after the October robbery of United Mississippi Bank.

He allegedly entered the bank and fired one shot in the air, before taking more than $40,000 and fleeing the scene. He also allegedly fired one shot outside the bank in the direction of someone. No was injured in the robbery.

A second minister, Barney Rankin, 44, of Fayette, was arrested in Fayette the day after the armed robbery.

Rankin, the pastor of St. Stephen Baptist Church in Vidalia, La., allegedly drove the getaway car the day of the robbery – a 2000 Yukon registered to his church.

Originally federal officials were prosecuting the case but it was recently transferred over to state jurisdiction.

&uot;There’s a state charge pending and all I’m concerned about is making sure that the charge is handled,&uot; Martin said. &uot;That’s my job.&uot;

Both suspects are charged with armed robbery and are out of jail on $50,00 bonds, said Jefferson County Sheriff Peter Walker.

Walker described the case as &uot;a good case&uot; involving Hargrave and Rankin.

The Jefferson County grand jury is in session this week.