Local hero helps catch robber

SENATOBIA, Miss. — Forty-two-year-old Tora Lavelle Bennett of Memphis sits in the Tate County Jail, facing armed robbery charges.

You may not believe how cops caught him – one of his victims took off after him.

”I am so proud of the gentleman that followed him and had enough sense to get on the phone with the state troopers,” said Mary Clay of Senatobia.

It started just after 11 a.m. Tuesday at a Senatobia supermarket.

As Bennett ran out the store, one of the store managers threw off his jacket and ran to his personal car. He followed Bennett down I-55 all the way to Panola County, talking to dispatchers the whole time.

Police don’t normally advise people to confront or chase after criminals, but in this case it made a huge difference.

”If he was not following the guy, we would have had no direction to go and today he could be robbing someone else,” said Senatobia Assistant Police Chief Robert Brownlee.

Tate Sheriff’s Dispatchers alerted Panola County, which put spike strips down on the interstate.

Bennett blew out the tires on his stolen minivan and wrecked in the median.

Officers and the Tate County Constable caught up with Bennett and put him in handcuffs.

”If it happened more often, it would make our job a whole lot easier and I’ve told people in the past, it takes the whole community to make the police department” said Brownlee.

And people in Senatobia take that seriously.

”If I wouldn’t have shot him first, gotten a clean shot and got him shot, I’d have been after him also,” Clay said.

People here say they hope more Memphis criminals remember that next time they think about committing a crime here.

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