Brewster bank robbed at gunpoint
BREWSTER -- A suspect in the armed robbery of the Rolling Hills Bank & Trust in Brewster Tuesday was arrested within hours of the incident, according to the Nobles County Sheriff's Office.
Nobles County Chief Deputy Chris Heinrichs said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a man in custody for questioning and wants citizens to know the perpetrator isn't out in the community.
"We got the guy," Heinrichs stated. "Right now they are questioning him about some things. They need to get to the bottom of some things."
The robbery took place shortly before noon, while three employees were working.
According to Heinrichs, there were no customers in the bank at the time the suspect, described as a medium- height male, brandished a black handgun and left the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash.
The man reportedly handed the employees a bag and asked for cash, and left out the front doors of the bank.
No one was injured during the robbery.
More details would likely be available within 24 hours, Heinrichs stated Tuesday evening.
He could neither confirm nor deny any ties between the robber and southwest Minnesota.
"Because it is a bank robbery, there will have to be a federal indictment, but we might have to file a complaint" to keep the suspect in custody legally until that indictment is filed, he added.
Shortly after the robbery, the suspect was described as a male wearing a black mask and a light-colored coat, possibly blue, with red lining. Authorities were told the male was possibly driving a silver SUV.
At approximately 1:30 p.m., a person of interest was picked up by authorities in St. Peter, but Heinrichs was unable to confirm Tuesday evening that it was the same person.
The male was picked up near the site of a bank robbery that took place in St. Peter approximately two weeks ago. That person was also wearing a black face mask and brandishing a black handgun, possibly driving a silver SUV.
"A vehicle was seized," Heinrichs said of Tuesday's arrest. "We're in the process of drawing up a search warrant."
Round Lake-Brewster School District Superintendent Cornelius Smit said the elementary school in Brewster, located just a block from the bank, went on silent lockdown shortly after the chief custodian heard about the robbery over the law enforcement/fire radio and alerted school officials.
"We locked up and viewed the scene from (the school) to make sure we didn't have a bank robber trying to get into the building," Smit stated. "We saw a lot of law enforcement out there."
Law enforcement officials notified the school a short time later, but the school was already locked down. It stayed that way until approximately 1:10 p.m., when a deputy notified the school things were "all clear."
Smit said they did not send an alert to parents, because there was no imminent danger.
The same bank, then the First National Bank of Brewster, was robbed in September 2004.
A suspect, Mahdi Robert Potter, eluded police in New York after a federal indictment was filed, but later turned himself in to authorities in Minneapolis.
Potter had ties to New York and had been living in Sioux Falls, S.D. at the time of the robbery.