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Search warrant: Jeff Athey walked into a Granite Quarry bank prior to robbing Rockwell F&M bank

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — Jeff Athey, a Salisbury man and former Davidson County sheriff’s deputy, walked into a Granite Quarry bank before demanding $1,000 in a robbery at the Rockwell F&M Bank on the same day, according to a search warrant.

The search warrant application, which was filed Wednesday, was taken out by FBI Task Force Officer John W. Price. An affidavit details what happened before the robbery. A search of Athey’s home was conducted Thursday.

About 3:30 p.m. Feb. 6, Athey walked into the F&M Bank at 418 W. Main St. in Rockwell. He put a handgun on the counter and told the teller he wanted $1,000. Authorities said he walked out of the bank and was arrested less than five minutes later at Crescent Road and U.S. 52.

Athey was fired from his deputy job an hour after the robbery.

The warrant said investigators were alerted by staff members at the F&M Bank at 138 N. Salisbury Ave. in Granite Quarry that a man matching Athey’s description entered that bank earlier in the day. He asked if the bank had a restroom and then left. The man was wearing a Harley-Davidson T-shirt and blue jeans.

The staff noted he left in a silver Ford Mustang that had been parked in the bank parking lot. After reviewing surveillance video, investigators determined that the man was Athey. In the video, investigators also saw a Glock pistol in his back pocket as he was leaving.

The warrant application said when Athey went into the Rockwell bank, he had sunglasses on. An employee asked him to remove the sunglasses for security reasons. He complied, but then a few seconds later put them back on.

He told the teller at the Rockwell bank he needed to get some money. She tried to get his personal information and account number. After she told him she could not help him without the proper identification, he placed the gun on the counter, the warrant said.

The teller retrieved a stack of $100 bills from her drawer and counted out $1,000 and handed it to Athey. He then walked through the same rear door he had entered and was seen driving away in a silver Ford Mustang.

The teller told investigators the robbery suspect wore a Harley-Davidson T-shirt and blue jeans.

Athey was stopped by a law officer and complied with demands to get out of his vehicle. He was wearing the same Harley-Davidson T-shirt and blue jeans and had a .380 semi-automatic Glock 42. He also had the stolen $1,000.

In his car were items related to his law enforcement job, the warrant said.

He was charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon. He remains in the Rowan County Detention Center under a $500,000 secured bond.

Investigators noted in their application for a search warrant that people who commit crimes generally plan them, including taking into account the bank route and a search with their phones or computers to provide needed details. That digital evidence can be obtained through phone or computers, the warrant said.

The warrant also included the search of Athey’s Knotty Pine Circle home, including any storage sheds, garages, wells or pump houses as well as above-ground storage containers.

The warrant application includes an aerial view of Athey’s home and a picture of the exterior of the home. Investigators seized four thumb drives, two Dell laptops, an Xbox game console, a Toshiba laptop, three Apple iPhones, assorted documents, a Huawei cellphone, and a box of memory cards.

The warrant application was submitted by John Price, a detective with the Eden Police Department. He’s currently assigned to the Charlotte Division of the Greensboro Resident Agency Office of the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force.

A separate search warrant submitted Feb. 9 by Rockwell Police Chief Hugh Bost requests that Athey’s phone be seized and searched.

“Prior to commission of the crime, witnesses saw the suspect talking on the phone while parked at the Granite Quarry Branch of F&M Bank,” the warrant said.

The warrant says the phone was seized along with a pair of aviator-style Panama Jack sunglasses.

Athey is expected in court for a probable cause hearing Feb. 28.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.


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