The suspect in Monday's Rochester bank robbery returned to the bank today to rob it again, police say — but was arrested at gunpoint less than 45 minutes later near Coates.
In what can only be called an incredible coincidence, a TV news reporter was at Sterling State Bank, doing a live shot, when it was robbed today.
Adam Sallet, a reporter with KIMT-TV in Mason City, Iowa, was updating Monday's robbery on the noon news when an employee ran from the bank at 5600 U.S. Highway 52 North and pointed to a man walking north on Bandel Road.
"That's the robber," the employee said. "That's him right there."
Saying, "this is live TV, folks," Sallet broke away from the report, saying, "I have to go. I have to call 911."
Police were able to determine the suspect had left in a vehicle, heading north on U.S. 52. A Rochester police officer and troopers with the Minnesota State Patrol were able to spot the vehicle and pulled the suspect over.
He was arrested at gunpoint without incident, according to scanner reports.
The man is described as a white male in his mid-20s to mid-30s, about 6 feet tall and weighing 140-160 pounds, entered the bank about 11 a.m., when it was empty of customers.
He showed a teller a note demanding money and indicating he was armed, said Police Capt. John Sherwin, then left with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Officers were able to follow tracks in the snow that led north to the parking lot of the Comfort Inn at 5708 Bandel Road, where it's believed the suspect left in a vehicle parked nearby.
Rochester police continue to investigate the armed robbery that occurred about 11 a.m. Monday — but wasn't reported until 11:18 a.m., officials said today.
The suspect, described as a white male in his mid-20s to mid-30s, about 6 feet tall and weighing 140-160 pounds, entered Sterling State Bank, 5600 U.S. Highway 52 North, when the bank was empty of customers.
He showed a teller a note demanding money and indicating he was armed, said Capt. John Sherwin, then left with an undisclosed amount of cash.
He was wearing what investigators believe was a green sweatshirt with "Get Lucky" and a four-leaf clover on the front. The sweatshirt is associated with a half-marathon that's run up in the Twin Cities, Sherwin said. The man also wore a black and gray stocking cap and black gloves.
"Our advantage was it was snowing yesterday, and it was starting to stick," Sherwin said. Officers were able to follow tracks that led north to the parking lot of the Comfort Inn at 5708 Bandel Road, where it's believed the suspect left in a vehicle parked nearby.
"Obviously, we don't need a police dog to follow footsteps in the snow," Sherwin said, but a police dog brought to the scene "confirmed (by scent) we were on the right track."
There were two employees inside the bank during the robbery, he said, but before calling police, "they called their boss, who drove there, then he called us.
"Obviously, time is of the essence in these investigations," Sherwin said. "We had an officer very nearby investigating an accident. Once he got the call, he was able to get there very quickly."
He couldn't speculate why the employees didn't call police immediately.
It was the second bank robbery in Rochester in five days. A hold-up alarm came in about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, sending officers to U.S. Bank, 3376 Northern Valley Place NE.
The suspect in that case, described as a black man in his early 20s, about 6 feet 3, with a thin build, also presented a note to a teller, but left without any money.
There's no indication the two cases are related, Sherwin said, though it's an unusual situation.
"We normally have two or three a (bank robberies) a year," he said, "so to have two in a week's time is rare. We normally catch bank robbers here, so it's a high-risk career path."
Anyone with information on either of the robberies is encouraged to call Rochester police at 328-6800 or 1-800-222-TIPS.