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VANCE, AL (WBRC) -
A man charged with robbing two west Alabama banks claims prayer led him to commit the crimes.
Suspect Christopher Bruce is accused of robbing the First Financial Bank in Vance last week and the West Alabama Bank in Woodstock Monday, Nov. 26 around 10:40 a.m.
Investigators say Bruce was down on his luck and had lost hope in going straight. As a convicted felon, it was hard for Bruce to find a legitimate job.
"He said he couldn't get a break and he didn't know how he was going to survive. He said he even pulled over on the side of the road and prayed about it. He just couldn't find it in himself to do anything different," Vance Police Chief Ralph Burnell said.
In the Woodstock bank robbery, Bruce allegedly slipped a note to the teller asking for money in certain denominations. Police say he was armed with a knife. He took an undisclosed amount of money and fled the scene in a red Mustang.
Woodstock Police Chief Len Price says that it was the Mustang that eventually lead them to Bruce. Price says that Bruce wrecked that vehicle a few miles from the bank and abandoned it.
Price says a tag left inside the vehicle came back to Bruce, which allowed investigators to match Bruce's drivers license photo to bank surveillance video. In addition, when investigators ran the VIN number on the Mustang, it came back to a woman that turns out to be Bruce's ex-girlfriend.
Authorities went to the woman's house and didn't find Bruce, but another piece of evidence that may link Bruce to the Vance bank robbery. Price says that Bruce used a white van when he allegedly robbed the Vance bank; authorities believe that the van used in that crime belongs to the mother of Bruce's ex-girlfriend.
Multiple agencies, including Woodstock Police and the FBI, took Bruce into custody at a Birmingham hotel Tuesday. Police say he confessed to the crimes and told police during interviews that he robbed the banks after praying for an answer.
Bruce is being held on outstanding warrants in Bibb County and also faces charges for the bank robberies in Vance and Woodstock.