Alleged bank robber again ducks capture

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 31, 2000

The Brewton Standard

Aug. 30, 2000 10 PM

ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. – Constantine Demetrius Burt gave law enforcement officials from Alabama, Florida and federal agencies the slip Monday night.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Burt, who is wanted for armed kidnapping, armed robbery, carjacking and in connection with two bank robberies, fled when he noticed members of the Escambia County (Fla.) SWAT team who had him under surveillance, according to Lt. Willie Ray Thomas with the Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Department.

"We had some folks watching him," Thomas said. "We put a SWAT team out and he saw them and ran."

What resulted was more than six hours of searching wooded areas near Century, Fla. and Flomaton.

Thomas said this was not the first time Burt has alluded authorities, including a manhunt on Thursday, May 18.

"We’ve run him a couple of times before," he said. "He’s pretty slick."

Escambia County Sheriff Tim Hawsey said he was unaware of the effort to capture Burt until approximately 6:30 p.m.

"It was an operation that started with the Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office," Hawsey said. "It was a coordinated effort that included some federal agents, the Escambia County

(Fla.) Street Crimes Unit and SWAT team."

Hawsey said the FBI and Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were also involved.

"They were trying to arrest or located Burt," Hawsey said. "I got rather frustrated because it was a major operation. They kept him under surveillance and it was a coordinated effort with that many agencies involved and they never told us a thing.

"I don’t know where they tried to take him down, but they only let us know after he got away. We only had two deputies on patrol, but were eventually able to call enough people out," he added.

The search included a custom’s helicopter with a spotlight, K-9 units, tracking dogs, a SWAT team, the Street Crimes Unit, Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Department, Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff’s Department, ATF and FBI.

Hawsey said his major concern was notifying residents in the search area so they could stay inside and out of harm’s way.

He also said he has communicated his concerns with Florida authorities about being left out of the loop for this operation.

"We talked and I think we’ll be able to cooperate a little better," Hawsey said. "We could have been better prepared. I really think they thought they had enough manpower to take him into custody. We’ve had a good working relationship with them, but it’s just a matter of Murphy’s Law – what you think won’t happen will."

The manhunt was called off at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Monday.

Burt is no stranger to manhunts and eluding them. He was the subject of a manhunt near Troy earlier this year after the Regions Bank on Park Street in Troy was hit by armed robbers.

A suspect in the armed robbery, Burt was able to elude law enforcement officers for several days during a similar manhunt.

Burt, who is described as a 26-year-old black male, standing 6’0" tall and weighing 160 pounds, is wanted in connection with the bank robbery in Troy in March of this year. He is also wanted by the FBI for kidnapping and questioning regarding the armed robbery of Whitney Bank in Century. He is the primary suspect for the armed robbery of the Close Out 99 Cent Store in Century, Fla. Hawsey and Thomas also said he is considered a suspect for the armed robbery of Super Foods in East Brewton earlier this month.

Alabama Governor Don Siegelman has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the men who robbed the Regions Bank in troy.