An armed robber’s getaway lasted less than five hours after holding up a Twiggs County truckstop early Sunday.
When caught, Christopher Scott Henson was kicking back after smoking cocaine, a tall, cold brew in his hand, Twiggs County sheriff’s officials said. By the time the law came calling, his haul had gone up in smoke. The 29-year-old Danville man confessed to the crime.
Twiggs County’s chief investigator, Capt. Chip Stokes, was spending the first night back from a trip to the beach when the call came in.
“The phone rang and I thought ‘We’re not in Kansas, anymore,’ ” said Stokes, who met Sheriff Darren Mitchum at the scene.
A man wearing a red and white bandana over his face who was carrying a long gun and a white plastic loot bag robbed the Exxon gas station at the 96 Truck Plaza on Ga. 96 at Interstate 16 just before 6 a.m. Sunday, according to a sheriff’s incident report.
“It looked like a cannon to me or a shotgun,” said Gin Dyches, assistant store manager. “But the sheriff’s office told me it was a .22 rifle.”
The gunman demanded cash from the clerks and took about $140 before fleeing in a small brown and tan Ford Bronco II.
Surveillance cameras captured images of the vehicle. Several alert witnesses buying gas and gathering at the Huddle House helped describe the white male robber who tried to mask his identity.
“He looked really young, and he sounded really young and he didn’t have any tattoos, so I thought he was about 18,” Dyches said.
Mitchum and his men were a comforting presence as the crowd all spoke of what happened, she said.
Investigators weren’t sure whether someone hopped off the interstate looking for quick cash or if the culprit was local.
“It’s very hard to determine from the get-go,” Mitchum said.
Deputies fanned out and got a big break at the Wilkinson County line as Cpl. John Gary turned around back toward town.
Near a shop, he spotted fresh tracks in the grass leading to a Bronco with a white plastic bag inside.
“The motor was still warm on it,” Twiggs County Chief Deputy Billy Boney said.
The suspect wasn’t there, but deputies found out their suspect’s name.
They found Henson with friends, sitting on a couch in a house on Railroad and Third streets. A shotgun was propped against the wall.
“He said he didn’t have any of the money left,” Mitchum said. “He used it to buy crack cocaine.”
Henson was arrested on charges of armed robbery and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Drug charges are possible as the investigation continues, but Stokes said they did not find any coke.
“He done smoked it all up,” Stokes said. “He didn’t seem to be too wired. He actually wanted me to let him finish drinking his beer before I put the cuffs on him.”
Henson had to leave behind the tall can of Bud Light.
Others with him were also taken into custody on firearm violations, Boney said.
By Monday morning, Henson realized the party was over. He soberly stood before Twiggs County Chief Magistrate David Brown, who explained Superior Court had to set bond for armed robbery.
“If you felt like you have been charged with something that you did not do, you would ask for a committal hearing,” Brown said.
“No sir, I don’t need one,” said Henson, who only had a prior arrest for disorderly conduct, Mitchum said.
“Well, I have one question,” Henson told the judge. “Will I get 10 years for that?”
Brown said that was for the trial judge to determine, after a conviction.
Henson lowered his head for a moment. He asked for a court-appointed attorney before shuffling out the door in his white, jail-issued sandals and chains around his ankles.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.