Port Angeles police get lots of tips on bank robbery — but no bandit

PORT ANGELES — Police are following up on a host of leads called in by residents trying to help identify the man who robbed Sterling Savings Bank on Monday.

The Port Angeles Police Department had no suspects Tuesday.
“The community has been very, very helpful,” Detective Jason Viada said.

“They have been calling in leads, and we have a very long series of tips that still need to be looked into.”

Eight minutes passed between the time that the robber approached the teller at 12:24 p.m. and the time dispatchers received the phone call about the robbery at 12:32 p.m.

During those eight minutes, the bandit — described as older white man with gray hair dressed in gray sweatpants and hooded, grey sweatshirt — flashed a black handgun, demanded money in denominations of $100 and $50, stuffed the bills in his pocket and fled on foot from the bank at 1033 E. First St., Port Angeles.

A witness spotted a man in gray sweats — matching the description of the suspect — who was walking north on Chambers Street.

“We are still working on verifying that it was the same man. I need more time to verify that,” Viada said.

Area searched

In a dramatic search Monday, two helicopters, a K-9 unit and officers from neighboring agencies assisted Port Angeles police as they scoured the neighborhood north of the bank after witnesses said they saw the robber head that direction on foot.

Sgt. Glen Roggenbuck headed up the multi-agency effort.

Officers with semiautomatic weapons searched backyards, parked cars and homes, knocking on doors throughout a 10-block area between Olympic Medical Center and Ennis Street.

“I’ve never witnessed anything like that,” Nikki Hart, who lives in the area, said Tuesday.

Officers told her and her sister-in-law, Kristi Hart — along with five children who live in the home — to get inside and lock the doors.

“I went outside to lock up the motorhome, just in case someone was wandering around and might hide in there, and the helicopter was hovering right above,” she said.

“Not too much later, the officers were back, and asking if I was the one that was out there.”

Jessie Howe, who also lives in the area, said she was pleased with how thoroughly the police searched the area around her house, although her husband searched the area again once he returned home.

“It was kind of scary though, being around all those guns,” she said. “After a while, I left for a couple hours just to get away.”

She pointed out a wooded area at the dead end of the street where police were searching and the helicopters seemed to be zeroing in on.

“There are lots of people who go down there and drink or sleep or whatever, so they were really concerned about that, it seemed like,” she said.

“They did a good job though.”

None of the residents said he or she had seen anyone suspicious, but all were hopeful police would capture the man soon.

Working through tips

Viada said the police are carefully working through all of the tips.

“We are working backwards, following up on tips on various individuals and matching it up to other similar crimes in the larger area,” Viada said.

“We have had discussions about the similarities and differences between this one and past cases.

Deputy Police Chief Brian Smith said the robber was about 5-feet-5-inches tall, was average weight and wore wrap-around eyeglasses and black shoes.

Witnesses told police that two deep vertical wrinkle lines mark the cheeks of his face.

Anyone seeing someone matching the description of the robber is asked to phone 9-1-1 or the Port Angeles Police Department at 360-452-4545.

Viada said it is unknown if the man was working alone, but none of the witnesses had seen him with anyone else.

No customers were inside the bank when it was robbed. Two employees were inside.

Cara Coon, Sterling spokeswoman, said she was not allowed to comment.

from: http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20090902/NEWS/309029996

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