Selmer man sentenced to nearly 39 years for two armed bank robberies

A Selmer man was sentenced to nearly 39 years in prison for bank robbery, U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced Tuesday.
A news release says that after a three-day jury trial in October 2019, a federal jury convicted Gene Allen Howell, 39, of two counts of aggravated bank robbery, two counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence, and being a felon in possession of a firearm. On July 20, Howell was sentenced to 466 months in federal prison.
The U.S. Department of Justice said that on Aug. 25, 2017, Howell robbed the Home Banking Company in Finger, Tennessee using a handgun. He pointed the handgun at all three female employees and threatened to kill them if they did not comply with his commands. Howell had stolen a utility vehicle from Selmer, which he rode to the bank and used to evade capture. The utility vehicle was later found abandoned in a wooded area.
On Oct. 14, 2017, Howell attempted to rob The Peoples Bank in Reagan, Tennessee using a .45 caliber pistol. He hid nearby, and attempted to accost two bank employees as they arrived for work, but they had just entered the secure tellers’ area in the bank. Unable to gain access to the teller area, Howell fired the pistol at the head of one of the employees, but she was protected by bullet resistant glass, the release states.
Howell and his co-defendant, who served as the getaway driver, were arrested 10 days later in Alcorn County, Mississippi on drug charges. Law enforcement found in Howell’s possession two pistols, including one used in the Reagan shooting; ammunition; and clothing worn during the robberies. The co-defendant testified against Howell at trial, and entered a guilty plea.
According to the Justice Department, Howell has an extensive criminal history, including prior convictions for aggravated assault, theft, and drug charges.

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