Police nab bicycle-riding bank robber

Scott’s police chief said Monday a suspected armed robber’s ruse to throw off police investigating a bank heist confused them until a tip miles away in Opelousas pointed officers toward longtime felon Charles Fontenot.

Scott Police Chief Chad Leger and Opelousas Police Chief Perry Gallow said Fontenot, 59, an Opelousas resident, was arrested Friday on one count of armed robbery after police searched his home and found most of the stolen cash.

Leger said Fontenot is suspected of loading his bicycle into a vehicle in Opelousas on Thursday, driving to the Cameron Street Home Bank location in Scott where he parked the vehicle behind a nearby building out of view of video surveillance cameras.

Fontenot then allegedly rode the bike a short distance to the bank at around 10:30 a.m., pulled a gun on a bank teller, loaded a cloth bag with about $14,000, then peddled out of sight, which security cameras captured.

Once out of sight, Fontenot abandoned the bike and drove off with the cash in a bank robbery made to look like a crime committed by a local, police said.

Scott detectives who questioned the bank teller and looked at the video discovered a trail that grew cold quickly, Leger said, until a call came in Friday from Gallow in Opelousas.

Gallow told Leger an Opelousas resident watched a TV newscast on the robbery and recognized in the aired surveillance video a tattoo on Fontenot’s arm, and also the bicycle the bandanna-wearing bandit rode.

Leger and Gallow, who spoke at a news conference Monday, said Fontenot has a long criminal record, including armed robbery and other felonies.

They said Fontenot was released from jail in July after a two-year sentence, though both chiefs said they didn’t know why he had been sentenced.

Leger said Fontenot gave police permission to search his home, and investigators found $12,000 in the cloth bag he allegedly used in the robbery. Perry and Leger said Fontenot spent about $2,000 in little more than one day on purchases and a visit to a casino.

Fontenot was booked into the Opelousas city jail, then transported to the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center where he remained Monday. Bail for Fontenot was set at $500,000, according to jail records.

Leger and Gallow said they called the news conference Monday to tout the cooperation between the two small police agencies in landing Fontenot.

Leger said there is open communication among almost all police agencies in southwest Louisiana — from State Police to the smallest police forces.

He and Gallow said that wasn’t how police chiefs, sheriffs and state troopers operated 20 years ago.

“It’s not a secret that sometimes egos got in the way,” Gallow said.