UPDATE: Planters First Bank robbed; suspect in custody

Published 11:36 am Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Official press release from the Cordele Police Department

On Tuesday, September 28th, 2021, just after 105:05 a.m., officers with the Cordele POlice Department were dispatched to Planter’s First Bank located at 1620 E. 16th Avenue in reference to a panic alarm. While the officers were en route to the call it was upgraded to a robbery by Crisp County Communications E-911 dispatchers.

The initial reports indicated that a black male suspect passed a hand written note to the teller inside the bank. The bank teller gave the suspect an undisclosed amount of money and the suspect left the bank on foot.

Witnesses provided Crisp County Communication E-911 dispatchers an accurate description of the suspect. He was seen via the remotely viewed city cameras by the front desk clerks at the Police Department in which they could give an accurate last known direction of travel to the officers on scene. The officers on scene immediately recognized the suspect from the photographs provided to them from the personnel at the bank.

The officers then went to the address in which they knew him to reside and successfully placed him under arrest. An undisclosed amount of money was also recovered and seized.  No one

involved in this incident was injured, including the suspect who has been identified as 25 year old Donald Wellons, Jr. of Cordele.

The Cordele Police would like to give thanks to all of the agencies that responded and provided immediate assistance including the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, and the Motor Carrier Compliance Division.

We ask that anyone with additional information pertaining to this incident, please contact the Cordele Police Department at (229)276-2921 or non-emergency 911 at (229)276-2690.


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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.