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Benson bank robbery suspect back in Johnston County

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BENSON — A man accused of robbing a PNC Bank and fleeing from a Raleigh hospital was captured in South Carolina last week and is now in the Johnston County Detention Center.

Benson police said Ronnie Hiram Wessinger Jr., 46, of Gaffney, South Carolina, entered the bank at 4:45 p.m. April 2 with a handgun and a sweatshirt around his face. As Wessinger was pulling his gun, police say a civilian inside the bank pulled a handgun and fired twice, wounding Wessinger in the hip and ankle.

Wessinger dropped his gun, police said, left the bank and was caught less than a block away. Johnston County EMS brought Wessinger to WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh for treatment of his injuries.

Benson police obtained an arrest warrant charging Wessinger with attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and second-degree kidnapping.

The next day, April 3, police attempted to interview Wessinger, who refused to comment without his attorney present. A second warrant was obtained charging Wessinger with possession of a firearm by a felon.

At 10 a.m. on April 9, the hospital released Wessinger before the warrants were served and he left the state.

Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, along with South Carolina authorities, joined in the search for Wessinger.

He was picked up later that day in Greenville, South Carolina. After waiving an extradition hearing, Benson police took custody of Wessinger and returned him to Johnston County to face the bank robbery charges.

His first court appearance was Friday and Wessinger is being held in lieu of a $1 million secured bond.