updated 5/15/2007 9:20:37 PM ET 2007-05-16T01:20:37

A man was charged with fatally shooting two bank tellers in Alabama during a robbery and faces the death penalty if convicted, authorities said Tuesday.

William Merriweather Jr., 30, is being held without bail in the deaths of Eva Hudson and Sheila Prevo, said prosecutor Ted Mills.

Merriweather also was accused of attempted murder in the wounding of two other tellers, Mills said, and kidnapping on suspicion of taking a bank manager hostage during the holdup Monday at a Bessemer branch of Wachovia Corp.

The man initially was charged with a third count of capital murder because authorities believed Prevo was pregnant, Mills said. But an examination revealed she was not expecting, and the charge was dropped, he said.

Authorities said Merriweataher walked into the bank shortly after 9 a.m., demanded money and started shooting.

Once outside, the man was confronted by a sheriff's deputy and a customer who ran outside once the shooting began, authorities said. The customer, Chris Chappell, said he retrieved a gun from his car and flagged the officer into the parking lot, where they both waited for the man to emerge.

The robber grabbed a hostage, and the officer shot him in the upper thigh, Chappell said. The suspect was taken into custody.

An attorney for Merriweather did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Merriweather had not been charged with bank robbery Tuesday, but the state's capital murder charges accuse him of killing someone during the course of a robbery.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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