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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Bank robbed

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Sikeston DPS Lt. Ricky Rapert puts up tape at First Midwest Bank shortly after it was robbed Monday. At left is bank president Steve Millington
(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
Suspect escapes after bomb threat

SIKESTON -- Police are searching for a man who robbed a Sikeston bank Monday afternoon and then left an explosive device later detonated with the use of a robot.

A robbery occurred about 3:40 p.m. Monday at First Midwest Bank, 630 N. Main St. in Sikeston, Sikeston Department of Public Safety authorities said. According to witnesses, a white male entered the bank and obtained an undisclosed sum of money from a teller using the threat of a bomb. After obtaining the money, the suspect fled east on foot toward Applegate, where authorities believe he was picked up by a vehicle described as "possibly a gray Chevy van with a blue stripe."

"We're not sure if the vehicle was involved. It was seen in the area and possibly picked up the suspect," DPS Capt. Mark Crocker said.

The suspect was described as 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-10-inches tall and medium build. He was wearing a dark-colored baseball cap with a logo on the front and a white, long-sleeved button-up shirt with a darker-colored shirt underneath and long dark pants. He had longer, brown hair and a goatee.

Bank robbery suspect
Because the suspect left a package in the bank and indicated that it had explosives inside, DPS officers who responded to the scene then evacuated the bank and contacted the SEMO Bomb Team to neutralize the bomb. After the team was able to enter, an officer in a bomb suit and the robot were used to open the package; no explosives were found.

Officers were then able to enter and process the scene for evidence from the robbery. The FBI, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Scott County Sheriff's Department and Missouri State Highway Patrol also assisted with the investigation.

"The best thing that came out of this was that no one was injured," Crocker said.

Officers were on the scene until about 9:15 p.m. This was the first callout for the SEMO Bomb Team since members have been trained and all the equipment obtained for use. The team, which is comprised of officers from Sikeston, Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff and Jackson, worked well together, Crocker said.

"Even though this turned out to be a false alarm with no explosives found, the team did an excellent job in neutralizing the threat and making it safe for officers and bank employees to re-enter the bank," Crocker said.

An officer with Sikeston DPS enters the bank ahead of the Southeast Missouri Regional Bomb Squad's explosives robot
(Photo courtesy of Sikeston DPS)
"Unfortunately you have to take these threats serious in today's world as explosives are becoming far too common."

Meanwhile it was back to business as usual today for First Midwest Bank employees.

"It's a regular Tuesday," bank president Steve Millington said.

All employees reacted just as they were supposed to Monday, said Millington, who was in the building at the time of the robbery.

"Our bank tellers and employees have been trained to react in these situations," Millington said. "...They gave what he asked for, and he left." Everyone reacted calmly, Millington added.

"I'm extremely proud of all the employees involved. They did everything right, and therefore no one was hurt," Millington said.

Monday's robbery was the first for the bank, which has been at its location for 15 years.

"And hopefully it will be the last," Millington said.

DPS encourages anyone with information concerning the robbery to contact them at 471-6200 or 471-1500. All calls can be confidential. A reward is also being offered for information that leads to the arrest of the suspect in this case.