LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – The father of one of two teenage girls arrested in a bank robbery that grabbed national attention last week said his family is in shock.
"We're at our wit's end," said Edward Johnston, who lives in Lawrenceville, Ga., a suburban city just north of Atlanta. "What else can you say?"
Heather Johnston and Ashley Miller, both 19, were videotaped wearing sunglasses and laughing during the Tuesday robbery of a Bank of America in Acworth, a well-to-do suburb in neighboring Cobb County, about 30 miles north of Atlanta.
Police also arrested a bank teller, saying the heist appeared to be an inside job.
After a brief car chase Thursday, the three were arrested about 20 miles from the bank that had been robbed two days earlier.
Edward Johnston said he found out about the charges when a police detective called him Thursday night. He said he has spoken to his daughter since her arrest, but declined to describe their conversation.
"God gives us free will and it's up to us what we do with it," he said. "Any adult has to make decisions and live with them — good, bad or indifferent."
Neighbors of the Johnston family also said this weekend they were surprised at the news.
Hwa Smith, who lives in the same subdivision, said she is glad the robbers were caught, but never imagined she would know them.
"We've been wondering who these girls are and come to find out that they're my neighbors," she said. "That's what I'm shocked about."
Dubbed the "Barbie Bandits" by some Atlanta media, the teens were captured by a surveillance camera handing a bank teller a note then casually waiting for the money as if "it's all fun and games to them," said Cobb County Police spokesman Wayne Delk.
That teller, 22-year-old Benny Herman Allen II, and another, Michael Chastang, 27, were arrested along with Johnston and Miller on felony theft charges.
Authorities have not said how much money the girls took, but Delk said it is "considerable."