A man suspected of robbing a downtown Riverside bank is in custody and police continue to search for a vehicle driven by a woman they say may have been involved. Two witnesses reported seeing a vehicle circling the area at around the time of the robbery, police said.
Riverside police have turned the suspect over to the FBI, who were expected to charge the male suspect on March 19 after the Landmark’s press time.
Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said the alleged bank robber is a 57-year-old man who was believed to have been living in Brookfield as of late last week, although his driver’s license listed an Elmhurst address.
According to Weitzel, the suspect was wanted on an active warrant for a drug-related offense at the time of his arrest. The Chicago office of the FBI posted a surveillance camera photo from First American Bank on its “bank robber” website and linked the offender to the robbery of a PNC Bank branch at 6655 W. Cermak Road in Berwyn on the afternoon of March 12.
Weitzel said someone called in a robbery at First American Bank, 15 Riverside Road, at 4:04 p.m. The caller described the offender as a man wearing a surgical mask and wearing orange gym shoes. He reportedly demanded cash and implied he was armed, though police have not recovered a weapon. The suspect reportedly entered and exited the bank through the Quincy Street door, near the drive-thru.
Witnesses told police the man was seen running east from the bank along the railroad tracks behind East Quincy Street. Officers from Brookfield, Berwyn, Lyons, Stickney, Forest View and North Riverside, including the latter village’s K-9 unit established a perimeter that extended to Cowley Road.
A woman who requested her name not be disclosed told the Landmark she was walking along the train platform south of the tracks near Jeff’s Auto at about 4:05 p.m. when she saw a man wearing a blue surgical mask and black coat running through the parking lot and then over the tracks to the north.
The man threw the mask and his jacket in trash containers behind the Riverside Post Office, 45 E. Burlington St., and then continued running east behind the homes along East Burlington Street before she lost sight of him.
At 4:10 p.m., Weitzel said, officers located a man wearing orange gym shoes hiding in the backyard of an East Quincy Street home about 200 yards west of Cowley Avenue. Police took the man into custody at gunpoint, Weitzel said.
“There’s no question that the reason he was apprehended so fast was the quick response,” said Weitzel. “I don’t think it could have happened without the quick response and mutual aid.”
Weitzel also noted that the bank is located just a matter of feet from the police station.
Police shut down the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad tracks for about a half hour while they searched the area for evidence. Weitzel said police recovered clothing along the railroad right-of-way and a trail of cash that led from the bank to the tracks. In addition, according to Weitzel, police recovered a large amount of cash from a sock the alleged offender was wearing.
In addition to the evidence recovered near the scene, Weitzel said investigators have obtained surveillance video from the bank and other nearby businesses.