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Robbery Arrest Sparks Discussion Of Plight Of Homeless Vets

Reported: Mar. 15, 2014 9:23 PM EDT
Updated: Mar. 15, 2014 10:30 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (Katy Brown) A Huntington man is in jail and accused of robbing the Chase Bank in Huntington at gunpoint Friday.

Charles Henderson, 58, was arrested about 9 p.m. in the 900 block of 6th Avenue and claimed life as a homeless military veteran led him to commit the crime.

In the wake of the incident, some want to offer a reminder that being homeless doesn't mean you have to lose hope.

Robert Pannell has a home, a job and spends his weekends helping the community, but it wasn't too long ago that things were different.

"I'm a veteran of the streets,” he said. “I feel for the people who are homeless. Ain't nobody supposed to be homeless."

Pannell was homeless for years. He lived every day on the street, no matter the weather.

It's that kind of life that Henderson said he needed to get away from after allegedly robbing the Chase Bank on Fifth Avenue in Huntington On Friday afternoon.

"I'm a homeless vet,” Henderson said, after being arrested Friday. “If I wasn't homeless and the VA center would have helped me out a little bit, I wouldn't have been doing this. I got tired of being homeless."

Arnold Dixon of Charleston, who like Pannell, was homeless for years, said it's sad to see Henderson's desperation.

"It's unfortunate when people have nowhere to turn to, no one to turn to and they feel desperate," he said.

On Friday, Henderson's actions landed him in jail.

Police said he entered the bank building just a before 4 p.m., holding a gun and demanding money.

"When you're out here struggling, to me, in my opinion, anything goes," Pannell said. "You know, because, if you ain't got no income, you're going to find something."

Henderson said Friday night that he didn't really think he'd get away with the crime.

"It's wrong for him to rob the bank. But, we’re struggling out here," Pannell said.

Dixon said no matter your struggles, just don't give up.

And he and Pannell should know. After years fighting homelessness, they both have jobs and a place to live.

"There is hope,” Dixon said. “There is help. There's always somebody with a hand to help you out. So stick in there, trust God and keep your head up."

If you know someone who is struggling with homelessness, you can contact the local veteran's assistance program at 304-558-3540 for help.

Henderson is being held at the Western Regional Jail on a $25,000 bond.



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