Asheville bank robbery suspect arrested after chase in Black Mountain, police say


Brian Leonhart

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WSPA) – A man wanted in connection with an armed bank robbery Monday afternoon in Asheville was arrested in Black Mountain following a chase, Tuesday afternoon.

We reported on Monday that First Citizens Bank, located at 1201 Tunnel Road, was robbed at around 3:30 p.m.

Brian Keith Leonhart, 40, reportedly entered the bank, pulled out a black semi-automatic handgun and demanded money, according to the Asheville Police Department.

Leonhart left the area in a white 2010 Mitsubishi Endeavor, with a Florida license plate reading DHL-L59, heading east on Tunnel Road.

On Tuesday, police said officers located the Mitsubishi in Jackson County, and said Leonhart was believed to be driving at 2005 red Ford Focus, with a North Carolina tag of BFZ-1883.

Police said they believe the Focus was stolen near where the Mitsubishi was found abandoned.

According to the Black Mountain Police Department, an officer spotted the red Ford Focus shortly after 2:00 p.m. on Highway 70 West and attempted to stop the vehicle.

Officers chased the vehicle until it crashed around 10 minutes later on West Cotton Avenue, police said.

Leonhart was taken into custody on Lake Avenue after officers say he tried to break into several homes and vehicles in the area of Genesis Circle.

Leonhart is facing several additional charges related to the chase in Black Mountain including felony speed to elude arrest, felony possession of a stolen motor vehicle, felony possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, careless and reckless driving, two counts of breaking and entering, and attempted breaking and entering of a motor vehicle.

Asheville Police have charged Leonhart with robbery with dangerous weapon, possession of firearm by felon, common law robbery, larceny of motor vehicle, two counts of assault with deadly weapon, and possession of stolen vehicle.

According to jail records, Leonhart remains in the Buncombe County Detention Center without bond.

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