Suspect known for criminal past

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2000


Staff Writers

April 4, 2000 11 PM

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Police are still chasing someone who has proven to be a fleet-footed suspect in connection with a March 29 bank robbery in Troy.

The suspect, believed to be Constantine Burt, is also wanted on robbery and kidnapping charges stemming from an incident in Escambia County, Fla.

According to Tri-City Ledger editor and publisher Joe Thomas of Flomaton, the 26-year-old Burt makes the area near Flomaton, Ala., and Century, Fla., his home. There, he has built a reputation for avoiding capture from authorities thanks to his agility, street-smarts and his ability to flee into wooded areas where he is known to out-maneuver dog teams, Thomas said.

Burt allegedly has a long criminal history which dates back to time served for a variety of crimes related to drugs and petit theft. Since his latest release from prison about a year ago, Thomas said authorities believe Burt has established himself as a strong-armed criminal who is wanted for a robbery of a retail store in Escambia County, Fla., and for a kidnapping related to that robbery.

"My understanding is that a couple of people robbed a 99 cent store in Escambia County and took a clerk at gunpoint and put her in a trunk," Thomas said. "They released the clerk later."

In Pike County, exhausted officers have spent the past six days searching for Burt after they believe he participated in an armed robbery of Regions Bank’s Park Street branch in Troy a week ago.

Benny Scarbrough, public information officer for the Troy Police Department, said officers are "vigorously searching" northern Pike County for the fugitive.

Although sightings of the man believed to be Constantine Burt have been reported over the past few days, the suspect is still not in custody.

Scarbrough said officers are involved in the search "for the long haul" and have no intentions of giving up the search until Burt is caught.

He said the fugitive will "be actively sought" by law enforcement officers "wherever he goes."

According to information released by the TPD, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has obtained a federal warrant for robbery on Burt, who is described as a 26-year-old black male, standing 5’10" tall and weighing 160 pounds. This warrant is in addition to Escambia County, Fla., warrants and parole violations charged in Escambia County, Ala. The suspect is considered to be armed and dangerous.

Scarbrough said residents in the area where Burt has reportedly been spotted have reported some burglaries and the theft of a couple of bicycles. He said it is unknown whether the robbery suspect had any connection with those incidents.

But according to Thomas, bicycles are a preferred mode of transportation for Burt and the thefts are suggestive that police are on the right track.

"He is known to steal bicycles, digs tunnels, run, and do whatever he has to do to avoid being captured," Thomas said. "He has been suspected of taking several bicycles to evade officers in (the Flomaton) area."

Thomas said Burt is known for his roguish antics, and despite what many law officers would prefer to think, he has become a sort of folk hero in the area.

"The authorities simply have a tough time catching him. He’s no dummy and he’s in shape and is used to living on the run."

Troy officials are being assited by the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, Montgomery County, Crenshaw County, the 12th Judiciary Drug Task Force, the Alabama State Troopers, the FBI and canines from Kilby Correctional Facility.

Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage expressed his appreciation for the assistance other agencies have given his department.

The bank robbery case has been turned over to the FBI and agents from the Montgomery bureau have questioned Herbert Johnson and Claude Mims, 18, of Troy, who were apprehended in connection with the robbery. Johnson is reportedly in his mid-20s.

The suspects are accused of stealing $20,000 in cash, of which $14,000 has been recovered.