Catching a bank robber turned into a community effort when a civilian took a snapshot of the suspect’s car and turned it over to police.
The incident took place back in late January, and residents of the town were quite shaken up.
The robber parked in the back of a neighboring bank before heading off to hold up Dakota West Credit Union, but he didn’t go unnoticed.
“He started riding down the alley, the same direction I go to work. So, I kind of followed him. I didn’t want to get too close, so I stopped and I took a picture of his pickup and the license plate,” said Chief Financial Advisor John Burke, with Dakota Western Bank.
While some wouldn’t have taken the time to investigate, Burke says he just knew something was off.
“If it had been a vehicle in somewhat decent condition, maybe I wouldn’t have noticed it. Plus, it is employee parking. Like, nobody ever parks there in work out. So, that stood out. And then when I backed out and he took that bicycle out of that pickup. It’s like who takes a bicycle out of a pickup?” said Burke.
Police Chief Charles Headley says to the bank tellers, nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
“During the COVID-19, it’s not unusual to see people come into a store or even a bank for that matter wearing a mask. She probably didn’t even think anything of it until she was presented with a note that he wanted the money from the till and that he was in possession of a firearm,” said Headley.
Though it turned out to be a BB gun, it looked very real.
Luckily, other banks in the area were not targeted by the suspect.
Headley also tells us this is the first bank robbery he’s dealt with in Bowman. It was thanks to the quick-thinking of the community, that they were able to stop and apprehend the suspect.
“When you hear something of that nature going over the airwaves through state radio. On the fly, we’ve got agencies in surrounding counties and communities that are hearing this as well, so it went very very quickly. All within an hour or hour and a half at the most,” said Headley.
The Bowman Police Department says Burke’s photo was a key piece to finding the thief.
“It really cut through the muck as far as getting the most accurate information we can to help arrest this individual,” said Headley.
They even gave him a little recognition for his service.
“We did provide him with a police department challenge coin. Just as recognition. It’s a coin we give out for officers on the department or other officers for that matter who assist us and provided an excellent service to the community,” said Headley.
To help out and thank them for what they do, KX is giving Bowman Police gift cards for food and supplies for the department.