By Larry Briscoe
A bank robbery suspect was shot early Thursday morning when the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) attempted to execute a search warrant on Cody Lane, immediately south of Quinlan off Spur 264.
The operation was underway at about dawn Thursday when The Quinlan-Tawakoni News arrived at the scene. FBI Supervisory Special Agent Michael LaPlante and Special Agent Michael Hillman said shots had been fired and advised this reporter to move back to a place of safety.
When asked about possible injuries to agents or suspects, Hillman answered no agents were injured. Further details were not immediately discussed.
A young man arrived and said he was on his way to work and was there to pick up another man who worked with him who lived on the other side of the raid. He was not able to continue further.
Jerry Womack whose home backed up to where the raid was underway said his family had not been aware anything was happening until his wife looked out the window. They were surprised to see the events behind their backyard.
He said agents had one suspect, dressed in a white t-shirt, on the ground, and they placed a heavyset many with a ponytail in an ambulance.
Womack expressed concern that his five-year-old son had been asleep in his bedroom that faced the action outside and for any stray bullets that would have reached him. He said his son liked to sleep up against the outside wall.
An AMR ambulance soon left with one of the suspects who was later identified as Johnny Charles Butler, 46. He was taken to Hunt Regional Medical Center in Greenville. A medical helicopter had been placed on standby in the parking lot of W.H. Ford High School, a landing site prepared by Quinlan and West Tawakoni firefighters.
A second suspect and brother of the first, James Robert Cleveland Butler, 43, was seen taken from the scene in a Department of Public Safety patrol car, driven by Cpl. S.E. Simpson.
The operation was not connected to a separate shooting incident between Hunt County Sheriff’s Office and suspect or suspects off Northshore Road on King Street. See separate story.
Several vehicles arrived at the scene and were described by Katherine Chaumont of the FBI’s Field Intelligence Group as the Evidentiary Team.
The Evidentiary Team remained onsite after the SWAT team cleared about 8:45 a.m. At one point, banging noise on a door or other wood could be heard.
Garland Ellstrom, a Garland police officer assigned to the FBI’s Safe Street Violent Crime Task Force that investigates bank robberies, revealed events in court documents obtained by The Quinlan-Tawakoni News.
The officer described James Butler as six-foot, two-inches tall and weighed 160 pounds. He described Johnny Butler as six-foot, three-inches tall and weighed 265 pounds.
Ellstrom said a search warrant was executed Thursday at the Butler residence in Quinlan.
“Both Johnny Butler and James Butler initially refused to exit the residence. The decision was made to deploy gas into the residence. At one point during the gas deployment, shots were fired from the Butler residence at SWAT agents. Agents fired shots into the residence. Negotiators were able to obtain contact with the subjects inside and determined that Johnny Butler had been shot in the shoulder. Negotiators were able to convince both Johnny and James Butler to come outside and give themselves up,” the officer states.
Ellstrom said both were taken into custody — Johnny was taken by ambulance to a hospital, and James was taken to the sheriff’s office; Johnny was then treated and released into custody.
The officer states both suspects admitted they committed the Forney bank robbery as well as four other bank robberies in the Dallas area. He said they identified themselves in video images from the five bank robberies.
Ellstrom said the Butlers had been the subjects of a federal investigation involving bank robbery including one at Forney on May 18.
He quoted a bank teller’s description of the robbery while she was working and standing behind the tellers’ counter. She told him suspects entered the bank with guns drawn and ordered customers and bank employees to the floor.
“One of the suspects entered the area behind the counter, pointed a gun at her and demanded she open up the two bank teller drawers. The teller, fearing for her life, complied with the request and opened up the two drawers. One of the suspects then removed cash from the drawer. The suspects then escaped through the front door of the bank,” the officer states.
He quoted a bank customer who was leaving the bank as saying the suspects forced him back into the bank at gunpoint and stated, “(g)et back into the bank. This is a robbery.”
Ellstrom said the customer saw one of the suspects behind the counter demand money while the other remained in the lobby and watched over customers and employees.
“The bank customer stated that as the suspects left the bank, they told everyone in the bank to count to 100 before getting off the floor.”
He said Bank of America officials claimed more than $27,000 was taken during the bank robbery.
The officer quotes a confidential source as saying the brothers were responsible for a number of bank robberies in the Dallas area over the past couple of years.
“James Butler described the bank robberies to the CS (confidential source) as takeover-style robberies during which he and Johnny would enter the banks with firearms drawn. James would jump over the counter to get the money while Johnny maintained control of the lobby by holding customers and employees at gunpoint,” the officer said.
Magistrate Judge Renee Harris Toliver found probable cause and ordered the Butlers held for trial.
During the five-minute hearings for each, Ronald G. Crouch was court-appointed to represent Johnny Butler, and Federal Public Defender Richard Alan Anderson was court appointed to represent James Butler. Assistant Federal Public Defender Douglas A. Morris filed as James Butler’s counsel on Monday.
Both suspects waived preliminary hearings and detention hearings.
Susan Parks of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Dallas said the two would probably not be arraigned until a later date. She said bond would not be set until the later hearing date.
Suspect Shot In Raid By FBI
By Larry Briscoe