A press conference held Wednesday afternoon by the Jasper Police Department, Walker County Sheriff’s Office and Walker County District Attorney’s office detailed a desire to find to Brandon Joseph Peake, 32, and Tamra Starr Files, 31. Both are from Walker County.
A mass evacuation was ordered at Walker Baptist Medical Center Friday morning after someone called Walker County E-911 at 8:12 a.m. saying a bomb had been placed inside the hospital. The caller, identified as a male, also implied a threat to a bridge along Alabama Highway 69.
The bank robbery occurred just before 4 p.m. Friday when a white male wearing a ski mask and waving a handgun entered the bank.
Wednesday’s press conference was the first time the bomb threat and bank robbery had been publicly linked by law enforcement officials.
“As a result of some hard work from our investigators, we were able to utilize technology to develop ‘persons of interest’ pretty early on,” said Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe.
An arrest warrant has been issued for Peake, who police believe called in the bomb threat at Walker Baptist Medical Center and later robbed the branch of Trader’s & Farmers Bank in Curry.
Circuit Judge Jerry Selman signed warrants Wednesday afternoon charging Peake with first-degree robbery and making terroristic threats. Selman set cash bonds totaling $250,000 for Peake.
Peake is a white male, about 6-foot-1 with brown hair and brown eyes weighing approximately 185 pounds. Files is a white female, 5-foot-2 with black hair and brown eyes weighing approximately 130 pounds.
Police believe Peake and Files may be traveling in a 2010 black Chevrolet Silverado pickup with a personalized license plate 4PLAE.
Files is still being called a ‘person of interest.’
“While she is a ‘person of interest,’ and we want to talk to her, we want to say that they should not be approached,” Rowe said. “It would be our recommendation that if they are spotted, call the Jasper Police Department or Walker County Sheriff’s Office with information about their location.”
No warrants have been issued for Files, but police are very interested in speaking with her.
“Miss Files has had limited contact with her since Friday, and they have a great desire to hear from her,” Rowe said. “We’re also anxious and eager to her from her.”
Police initially called both Peake and Files ‘persons of interest,’ but after executing a search warrant just after 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at a storage facility in Curry Wednesday afternoon, an arrest warrant was issued for Peake.
During the search warrant, evidence related to the crimes was recovered.
“This was evidence key to our investigation,” said Darryl Mote, an investigator with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office.
Among the items found was a 4-wheeler, Rowe said.
“We were able to develop some suspects pretty quickly and broadcast a description of the suspects,” said Walker County Sheriff John Mark Tirey. “We immediately began running down leads. After that, our investigators at the sheriff’s office were able to come up with ‘persons of interest’ and we collaborated with Jasper police and have determined that these same ‘persons of interest’ are, we feel like, involved in both incidents.”
Both Rowe and Tirey termed the investigation as ‘dynamic’ and said they hope for a quick resolution.
Walker County District Attorney Bill Adair addressed the media during Wednesday’s press conference to commend the work of Jasper police and the Walker County Sheriff’s Office on the joint investigation into the two crimes.
“Both these agencies have done a fine job — a very quick job — and understand the importance of this situation,” Adair said. “I know at this time, both agencies are asking for the public’s help in locating these two people.”
Anyone with information about Peake and Files is being urged to call the Jasper Police Department at (205) 221-2121 of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office at (205) 302-6464.