Social media and alert public help catch Austin Bank robbery sus - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Social media and alert public help catch Austin Bank robbery suspects


Long hours of investigation, social media help, and a little luck helped one law enforcement agency get three suspected bank robbers behind bars.

Early Thursday morning, police took Christian Ponce into custody. He and his sister, Hannah Ponce, as well as Broderick Pippins, are each charged with robbing the Austin Bank inside the Bar-K convenience store on Monday.

That robbery is one of four at East Texas banks this week, but these are the first suspects to be caught.

Hannah and Pippins were arraigned this morning on aggravated robbery charges, the end result of a flood of officers investigating the Austin Bank robbery.

"Our deputies and investigators have been working practically around the clock with the help of the FBI," says Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano.

Security video helped, as investigators put the images out on Facebook, and it almost immediately began to pay off.

"We did put that information as soon as we possibly could. It began to generate some tips and information. The public's going there, they're obtaining information and they're interactive," the sheriff says.

Through chasing down leads, investigators were led to several locations; one of them was at Longview Regional Medical Center, where an arrest was made.

Hannah Ponce was taken into custody at the hospital, and according to the arrest warrant, her parents cooperated with deputies, giving permission to search the suspected getaway car, where some of the stolen money was found hidden in oven mitts.

"We were very fortunate. We did get information from the public," Cerliano says.

Familiarity helped with the capture of Christian Ponce, who had a long arrest record on charges ranging from drug possession to assault. He was located at a residence of Bar-K road, just a few miles away from the robbery scene.

Pippins was arrested at a Longview residence as well.

"All those things fell into place. It was just a lot of long hours of hard work," says Cerliano

Late Thursday Christian Ponce was arraigned on aggravated robbery charges. He and his sister Hannah along with Pippins, are all being held on $100,000 bond each.

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