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Holdup alarm leads to check-theft suspect in Alexandria


Derek Eugene Gunn

A Birmingham man was in Calhoun County Jail Saturday after allegedly trying to cash stolen checks at local banks.

Derek Eugene Gunn, 50, faces a felony charge of possessing a forged instrument after a deputy arrested him Friday afternoon at Noble Bank in Alexandria.

The deputy arrived at the scene after someone at the bank tripped a holdup alarm, said Sheriff Matthew Wade. That's a rare call for the sheriff's office, which patrols areas outside city limits. There are only three banks in the department's jurisdiction, all of them in Alexandria.

The arriving deputy found Gunn, who according to Wade wasn't holding up the bank, though bank employees told the deputy they suspected him of trying to fraudulently cash a check.

Wade said deputies later discovered that Gunn tried to cash a $3,500 check at Noble Bank in Oxford, but was turned down. Wade said Gunn also successfully cashed a $980 check at Noble Bank in Oxford. Wade said the checks were traced back to a car dealership on Alabama 202, where employees were surprised to learn that the checks had been stolen.

"It really doesn't happen as often as it used to," Wade said of check theft. Criminals have largely turned to electronic forms of theft, he said.

Wade said Gunn claimed he'd been dropped off at the bank by three men he'd met in Birmingham — men whose names Gunn claimed he did not know. Gunn didn't have a car in the parking lot at the time of his arrest, Wade said, but the sheriff said he remains skeptical of the man's account.

“The story's not really adding up,” Wade said. “Why would somebody pick somebody up in Birmingham and bring them to Calhoun County to do this?”

The forged instrument charge is a felony. Gunn also faces marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia charges for items allegedly found on him during the arrest.

Capitol & statewide reporter Tim Lockette: 256-294-4193. On Twitter @TLockette_Star.