Cullowhee State Employees’ Credit Union robbed

The State Employees’ Credit Union located across Highway 107 from campus was robbed Dec. 14 and a WCU student was arrested for the crime. He later admitted to robbing the bank and has been sentenced to jail. A timeline of the updates from the day of the robbery and news that has broken since are listed below. A complete story can be found in our print edition.

UPDATE – 1/4, 5 p.m. – Edwards appeared in court today for the second time and he entered a plea of guilty for common law robbery for robbing the State Employees’ Credit Union. He was convicted and sentenced to a total active prison sentence of a minimum of 10 months and a maximum of 21 months in the North Carolina Department of Corrections. District Attorney Michael Bonfoey stated in court, “I commend the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office for its swift response and quick action to solve this robbery within hours. Sheriff Jimmy Ashe and the other officers that responded to the scene and caught Edwards performed very professionally and apprehended the defendant and solved the crime very quickly.” The fact that Edwards used a toy gun, which under the law is not a dangerous weapon, is the reason he was convicted of common law robbery and not robbery with a dangerous weapon, which he was previously charged with. A charge of possession of stolen property was also dropped as part of the guilty plea.

UPDATE – 12/20, 12 p.m. – Edwards was in court today to face for the first time his charges from last week. We have learned that he robbed the credit union of $3,343 using a plastic gun, according to court documents. It was first assumed following the robbery that he was armed with a dangerous weapon because of the plastic gun’s appearance, but when officers searched Edwards’ car the plastic gun was found. Edwards reappears in court on Jan. 4, he has already admitted to robbing the credit union during an interrogation by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

UPDATE – 12/15, 6 p.m. – A need for some quick cash may have been the motive for Brian Edwards to rob the State Employees’ Credit Union across campus at gunpoint Wednesday. Students and friends of Edwards said today that he was a nice guy, but under a lot of financial stress trying to pay his bills. They say he was strapped for money and was being evicted from his apartment at Catamount Peak. Edwards remains in jail tonight on a $250,000 bond.

UPDATE – 5:15 p.m. – Brian Anthony Edwards, 21 and a WCU student, was charged with armed robbery and possession of stolen property in connection with today’s State Employees’ Credit Union robbery. His bond is set at $250,000 and has a first scheduled court appearance of Dec. 20. He is pictured at right.

UPDATE – 1:40 p.m. – Pictured at right is the silver Geo Tracker at Catamount Peak Apartments that is believed to have been the getaway car in today’s robbery. Employees at Catamount Peak could not comment on who owns the vehicle or who was arrested at Building 85.

UPDATE – 1:18 p.m. – The Western Carolina University exam schedule will resume with this afternoon’s 3 p.m. exam. More information will be provided later concerning the make-up of today’s exam scheduled for noon.

UPDATE – 1:15 p.m. – The “Shelter in Place” has been lifted by WCU Police. They have determined there is no ongoing safety issues or concerns to campus. The community may resume normal activities at this time.

UPDATE – 1:05 p.m. – WC staff member Katy Williams is on the scene at Catamount Peak Apartments. The suspect in the State Employees’ Credit Union robbery is in custody in his room talking with authorities. A photo of cops on the scene is pictured at right.

UPDATE – 12:55 p.m. – According to police scanner reports, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office has arrested an individual at Catamount Peak Apartments believed to be the person who robbed the State Employees’ Credit Union.

UPDATE – 12:45 p.m. – We have received reports that the silver Geo Tracker believed to be driven by the suspect in the State Employees’ Credit Union robbery was spotted at Catamount Peak Apartments and a room in Building 85 was searched.

UPDATE – 12:35 p.m. – From Provost Lofquist: “Exams are not cancelled all together…they are postponed until further notice. Obviously, the noon face-to-face exam is cancelled and will need to be rescheduled. We will continue to monitor the situation and inform campus of other schedule changes as needed. Please continue to shelter in place and monitor your email and the website for updates. Faculty will work with students who are unable to attend an exam session due to the interrupted schedules. More details will follow as the situation is monitored.”

UPDATE – 12:05 p.m. – Authorities have released a photo of the suspect in the robbery – see at right.

UPDATE – 11:45 a.m. – Today’s face to face exams at Western Carolina University are postponed until further notice – including the exam scheduled for noon.

UPDATE – 11:20 a.m. – Officers are looking for a silver Geo Tracker four-door sedan in connection with the suspect in the State Employees’ Credit Union robbery. A white male with a buzz cut was seen getting into the vehicle, which was parked at the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching’s loading dock. Witnesses reported seeing him change clothes before driving away.

UPDATE – 11 a.m. – WCU Police has confirmed that the suspect is armed. They do not have information regarding direction of travel or location, but are advising all WCU Community to “Shelter in Place” and “please stay where you are”.

UPDATE – 10:50 a.m. WCU Police has been advised of a robbery within the last few minutes at the State Employees’ Credit Union located across Highway 107 from campus. Suspect is described as a white male, wearing a mask, a hooded maroon sweatshirt, and blue jeans with a patch. No weapon information is available but as a precaution WCU Police is assuming that the suspect is armed. A dye pack did go off as the suspect left the scene. Direction and means of travel are unknown at this time. WCU Police has stationed themselves at all entrances and a search for the suspect is being conducted. They added, “Please refrain from moving into the area of the travel lodge gas stations and the Credit Union”.