Two men were charged with disorderly conduct and other offenses after police swarmed East Burlington Street in downtown Riverside just after 3 p.m. yesterday in response to a 911 call reporting a robbery in progress at the Mid-America Bank.
Turns out the incident amounted to a prank gone awry.
Cicero resident Marinko E. Goravica, 24, and Berwyn resident Edwin J. Sierra, 26, were apprehended by Riverside police at gunpoint in the parking lot behind the bank after allegedly passing a note to a teller at the bank’s drive-up window that read “Give me all the money, bitch, seriously!”
The two men later told police the note was intended for Sierra’s girlfriend, who was working at the drive-up window at the time of the incident. However, since the window was busy, another teller received the note and immediately ran to a supervisor, who told her to notify police.
According to Riverside Assistant Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, Sierra tried to call his girlfriend from his cell phone after seeing that something was wrong. His girlfriend, however, reportedly answered the phone and said, ‘Don’t bother me now, I’m being robbed’ before hanging up on him.”
Four Riverside squad cars and four squads from Lyons descended on the scene, along with Weitzel and Police Chief Eugene Karczewski. The first Riverside officer on the scene apprehended Sierra, who had gotten out of Goravica’s 2001 Honda Accord and was walking toward the bank, at gunpoint. Goravica, who remained in the vehicle, was also taken into custody without incident.
“It was a very tense situation,” Weitzel said.
Meanwhile, Mid America Bank officials locked down the bank, which had customers inside at the time. A call to Mid America Bank Branch Manager Lynn Canterbury for comment was not immediately returned. Weitzel said police remained on the scene for approximately 20 minutes.
“The bank did just what they were supposed to do,” Weitzel said. “They followed their protocol.”
Because bank robbery is a federal offense, Riverside Police contacted the FBI and both Sierra and Goravica, along with Sierra’s girlfriend were interviewed by FBI agents. After the FBI conferred with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, both men were turned over to Riverside police.
The Cook County State’s Attorney denied a request by Riverside to proffer felony charges against the two men. Both instead were charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. In addition, Sierra was cited for possession of cannabis and drug paraphernalia, while Goravica was also cited for possession of drug paraphernalia.