Police seek Orono robber

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Posted July 13, 2010, at 3:46 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Police say they are searching for a bank robber who claimed he had a weapon when he walked into the Bangor Savings Bank on Park Street around 3 p.m. Tuesday and demanded money.

The suspect had not been arrested Tuesday night.

“Subject claimed to have a weapon and got away with an undisclosed amount of money,” Orono police Capt. Josh Ewing said in a statement.

The suspect is described as a 6-foot-tall white man 30 to 40 years old, weighing approximately 250 pounds, wearing a gray T-shirt, blue jeans and a dark baseball cap, according to a news release from the Orono Police Department.

The suspect last was seen on foot on Park Street heading toward Old Town. Police believe he may be driving a small U-Haul truck.

Old Town police Officer Jim Fearon and his canine, Puma, assisted by Officers Steve Marco and James Slauenwhite, tracked the suspect’s scent from the bank to the nearby Thriftway parking lot.

Marco went inside to ask the clerk if the store had video surveillance cameras on the parking lot, but it does not. The store clerk said she did not notice anything suspicious.

The University of Maine activated its emergency messaging system and issued a text alert at 3:32 p.m. saying the suspect was armed when he robbed the bank, which is located adjacent to the campus, near the Thriftway grocery store and Orchard Trails apartments.

“Armed robbery reported near campus,” the text alert stated. “Suspect at large, possibly on campus. Seek safe shelter.”

The multilevel emergency notification system also issued audible alarms, gave Web updates, initiated pop-up messages on UMaine’s First Class conference system and had a recorded message available at 581-INFO, said university spokesman Joe Carr.

“It’s the first time we’ve used all the elements of the system in a real-life situation,” he said. “It was really an easy decision to activate the emergency messaging system because we knew from reports from the Orono police that there was a robbery. The bank is so close to campus, we had to consider the worst-case scenario.”

The university is hosting several youth sports camps and quick action was taken by adult supervisors, Carr said.

“They reacted quickly and got the students inside to make sure the students were safe,” he said.

University of Maine police believe the suspect has left the area, according to a text alert sent at 5:06 p.m.

Orono resident Carolee Mountcastle, who has been a Bangor Savings Bank customer since 1978, stopped by the bank at 4:45 p.m. to get some cash from the ATM and said she was surprised to hear it had been robbed.

“It’s a shame,” she said. “It’s a great bunch of people who work there. When you walk in they know your name.”

“We’re not open,” a woman who answered the bank’s phone at 3:20 p.m. said, adding police were in the building investigating the case.

She said she could not give any information about the incident. The bank did not reopen on Tuesday.

The reported bank robbery is the second time Bangor Savings Bank has been hit in the last week. The downtown Bangor branch reportedly was robbed last Tuesday. The woman who allegedly robbed that bank, Matisha Pitts, 25, of Bangor, was arrested shortly after leaving the Bangor bank and remains in Penobscot County Jail.

Whether Tuesday’s robbery is connected to others involving a suspect dubbed the “burly bandit” who is wanted by the FBI in connection to at least 10 bank robberies in four New England states is unknown, Ewing said.

The burly bandit is described as a white male with short brown hair in his late 40s or early 50s, approximately 6 feet tall, weighing 250 to 300 pounds.

“I have a feeling we will have more information tomorrow, once we start coordinating further with the FBI,” Ewing said in an e-mail.

The burly bandit, who has worn sunglasses, a wig and a variety of hats including a straw cowboy hat during the rash of robberies, is believed to have robbed banks in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire since April. The most recent burly bandit hold-up was at the Ocean Bank in Merrimack, N.H., on July 2.

The FBI in Boston is offering up to a $20,000 reward for information that could lead to his arrest.

Those with information about the Orono robbery can call the Orono Police Department at 866-4451.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/07/13/news/bangor/police-seek-orono-robber/ printed on October 1, 2014