Crime & Courts

Bank robbery suspect wanted in kidnapping, shooting

CHARLOTTE -- Taj Pittman, the bank robbery suspect who has evaded the FBI and whose near-capture in December triggered a massive traffic jam in east Charlotte, apparently struck again overnight.

Authorities in Chesterfield County, S.C., say Pittman has abducted a girlfriend and shot a man in the town of Chesterfield.

They say he is on the loose, and law enforcement agencies across the Carolinas have been alerted.

Pittman has a history of activity in Charlotte and nearby areas, the FBI says.

According to the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office and several news agencies, a man who police believe is Pittman broke into an apartment overnight where an ex-girlfriend lives. Police say the man shot the girlfriend's current boyfriend, tied up the ex-girlfriend's mother, then took the woman hostage.

Police say he drove off in a burgundy van, but they have not released the van's license tag number or another other description of the vehicle.

Pittman is responsible for a number of bank robberies in Cabarrus and Stanly counties, the FBI says. The agency put out an alert for Pittman earlier this week, saying he is among their most-wanted suspects.

Police had Pittman once.

He was arrested in late November but was released by a judge in Cabarrus County. A few days later, the FBI tried to take him into custody at an apartment complex on East Independence Boulevard in east Charlotte. But Pittman managed to escape. Police launched a manhunt, closing Independence Boulevard during the evening commute.

But Pittman was not found.

Anyone seeing the suspect or the vehicle is asked to call 911. Pittman is considered by be very dangerous, and police say the public should not try to stop him.

-- The Charlotte Observer