Texarkana, Arkansas – Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Derrick Estell, age 35, of Hot Springs, was sentenced today on two counts of Use of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence. Estell pleaded guilty on December 1, 2014 to charges in connection with a Bank Robbery that occurred in Hot Springs on March 1, 2013 and a Carjacking that occurred on March 7, 2013. Estell was sentenced on one count to 84 months in prison and on the other count to 300 months in prison; the sentences are to run consecutive for a total of 384 months. He was also sentenced to five years of supervised release on each count to run concurrent and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12,478.00.
The Honorable Susan O. Hickey presided over the sentencing hearing in The United States District Court in Texarkana.
U.S. Attorney Eldridge commented, “Armed and dangerous, this defendant terrorized multiple innocent victims during his reckless crime spree. Thanks to the dedicated work of several law enforcement agencies, he was apprehended and has now been held accountable for this criminal activity that threatened the Hot Springs community. Our office remains committed to ensuring that justice is served on behalf of all of the residents of the Western District of Arkansas by prosecuting violent crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”
“Estell is a criminal who terrorized and victimized people and businesses,” stated Special Agent in Charge David T. Resch with the Little Rock Federal Bureau of Investigation, “He will now go to federal prison. This demonstrates the commitment between the United States Attorney, Garland County Sheriff’s Office, the Hot Springs Police Department, the ATF, and the FBI to work together and should send a strong message to anyone who would use intimidation and violence against the people of Arkansas.”
“We should all applaud the hard work of the investigators and deputies of the Garland County Sheriff’s Office in coordination with federal and state law enforcement agencies that Derrick Estell will spend a great deal of his life behind bars,” said Garland County Sheriff Mike McCormick. “The people of Garland County have spoken by saying that lawlessness will no longer be tolerated in their communities. His sentencing should send a message to other criminals that they will receive the same punishment if they plan to prey on the people of Garland County.”
According to court records, on March 1, 2013, Estell, wearing a dark colored hooded sweatshirt, a black ski mask, brown gloves and brandishing a small dark revolver, entered the Hot Springs Bank & Trust in Hot Springs, Arkansas and pointed the firearm at a customer, ordering the customer to the floor. Estell then announced the hold up, demanded money, pointed his weapon at the branch manager, and produced a paper bag demanding the money to be placed in it. Once money had been placed in the bag, Estell retrieved it and fled the bank. As 911 was called, employees of the bank observed Estell drive away in a vehicle that had been reported stolen from the surrounding area the previous day. The loss to the bank was over $11,000.
On March 7, 2013, officers with the Garland County Sheriff’s Office established surveillance on the Super 8 Motel in Hot Springs where they believed Estell to be staying. Officers were able to confirm the room Estell was staying in, the car he was driving, and that he was armed with at least three firearms. While investigators were attempting to isolate Estell in the motel, he emerged from a back door and fled on foot with officers in pursuit. Estell then carjacked a motor vehicle at gunpoint and took possession of the victim’s truck to continue his flight. According to the victim, Estell brandished a pistol, put it next to his side and demanded the keys. While fleeing from the officers at a high rate of speed, Estell struck at least three other vehicles before wrecking the stolen truck and running into nearby woods.
While officers were attempting to establish a perimeter around the woods, Estell was spotted running into an adjacent apartment complex where he broke into an apartment by kicking open the back door. The Garland County SWAT team and the Hot Springs Police Department officers isolated Estell in the apartment and after he refused commands to surrender, deployed gas to drive him out and ultimately took him into custody.
At the scene, officers recovered a loaded .38 revolver which was used by Estell during the carjacking and that matched the description of the firearm used in the bank robbery. In addition, officers obtained a search warrant for Estell’s motel room, in which they recovered a black hooded shirt, black neoprene ski mask, dark colored gloves that matched the clothing worn during the robbery, three other loaded pistols, and an assortment of ammunition.
This case was investigated by the Garland County Sheriff’s Office, the Hot Springs Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Harris prosecuted the case for the United States.