PLAINWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — Multiple law enforcement agencies were out in force in the small town of Plainwell Thursday after a man robbed a bank claiming he had a bomb.
Downtown was evacuated for most of the morning and the suspect remained at large as of Thursday evening.
Just before 11 a.m., a man carrying a backpack entered the local PNC Bank branch. He went to the teller and handed her a note that police say read, “I have a bomb in the bag. Put all non-marked money in a bag.”
The teller did as she was told and the man left the building. He was last seen heading north.
“Once we got into the bank, we realized there was a backpack that was abandoned,” Plainwell Department of Public Safety Director Bill Bomar said.
Police had people leave nearby buildings and closed off streets for several blocks. The Michigan State Police Bomb Squad used a robot to determine the backpack was filled with nothing put old clothes. Streets reopened around 1:30 p.m.
Police released clear surveillance images of the suspect captured by the bank camera to the media and tips came pouring in.
“We quickly received a possible suspect who’s currently not been apprehended,” Bomar said.
Police are not releasing the name of the suspect but say he is a man in his late 40s to early 50s.
“The man we are looking for is just recently showed up in the area. He has a relative (in the area); apparently the relative hasn’t taken him in,” Bomar said. “They thought he was homeless and that he was also suicidal, too.”
The suspect is not believed to be armed, but he may still be desperate.
“He is not known to us and he does not appear to have any interesting history, I guess you’d say, as far as being a criminal,” Bomar said.
Police believe he is still close by, though they are watching area transportation hubs.
“He has been living somewhere in the downtown area and that’s what we’ve been doing is looking in all those spots that someone who is homeless would be finding shelter,” Bomar said.
The Plainwell Department of Public Safety was being assisted by Allegan County Sheriff’s Department and state police, who used tracking dogs to look for the suspect.
The surveillance images show the robber wearing a white hat, blue crew shirt with a darker blue collar, a lighter colored undershirt, khaki pants and dark sunglasses. However, police say the robber has been shedding that distinctive clothing since leaving the bank.
“I would ask people in the city of Plainwell be extra cautious and keep their doors locked and call us if anybody comes to the door suspicious,” Bomar said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Plainwell Department of Public Safety at 269.685.9858 or Silent Observer at 800.554.3633..
>>Photos: Plainwell PNC Bank robbery