Local News

Bank Customer Helped Police Track Murder Suspect

Posted November 27, 2007 6:30 p.m. EST
Updated November 29, 2007 12:58 p.m. EST

— The scene outside the Domino's Pizza distribution center in Garner where Samuel James Cooper was arrested last week was preceded by a chase and a 911 call from Calvin Pendergraft.

Pendergraft was a customer at the Bank of America on Benson Road last Wednesday when, according to authorities, Cooper robbed the bank at gunpoint, fled in a white minivan and drove to the pizza business.

"He didn't run," Pendergraft said Tuesday, as news broke that Cooper, 30, of 2300 Creech Road in Raleigh, had been charged with five unsolved homicides in Wake County. "He was nonchalant. He walked every step of the way."

Cooper, he said, walked out of the bank, removed his mask and got into the minivan, Pendercraft said.

He followed Cooper, telling a Garner 911 operator where he was driving and what he was seeing.

"He made a right turn on Aversboro," Pendercraft says in the call, released Tuesday. "OK, the police just went by him." (Listen to the entire 911 call.)

With help from the description, Garner police were behind Cooper when, they say, he ditched abandoned the mini-van and ran into the Domino's where his mother worked.

His mother was consoled by fellow workers as her son was led away in handcuffs nearly an hour later.

Pendergraft said Tuesday he "just reacted" – and knowing, now, that Cooper is charged in connection with five homicides, he's glad he did.

"I don't know what hit me," he said. "Something hit me, and I did what I did."