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Bank robber hits Clinton Wells Fargo | UPDATE

By JESSIE STENSLAND
South Whidbey Record Staff Reporter
December 1, 2012 · 8:11 AM
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Police and bank officials spent Wednesday evening processing evidence at the scene of a Clinton bank robbery. / Jim Larsen/The Record

The Island County Sheriff’s Office released images of the masked man who robbed the Wells Fargo Bank in Clinton last Wednesday afternoon.

A man wearing a cloth mask entered the bank and demanded money, warning the employees that he wanted “no dye packs” and “no problems,” according to Detective Ed Wallace with the Island County Sheriff’s Office.

The robber did not display a weapon and left the bank with an undisclosed amount of money. Three employees were at the bank at the time, Detective Rick Felici said.

Detectives believe that the robbery may be tied to an earlier bogus 911 call from the phone booth at Classic Road in Greenbank. A man called at about 5 p.m. and claimed he had killed someone at an address on Smugglers Cove Road.

Deputies responded to the home and the phone booth, but found nothing amiss.

However, Wallace said they were suspicious and left some law enforcement officers on the South End in case the call was a ruse.

Sure enough, an employee at the bank called and reported the robbery at 5:55 p.m. The bank is about 15 miles from the phone booth. The robber was wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and a white cloth mask. One of the bank tellers believes that the red SUV seen leaving the area was a Saturn VUE.

The suspect was wearing a mask, but is described as a white male, about 6 feet tall and 200 pounds.

Wells Fargo Bank provided minimal information about the robbery.

Steve Clendenin, branch manager in Clinton, said he just left before the robbery occurred. “I missed it by two minutes,” he said. He was on his way to an “off-site appointment” when an employee called and informed him about the incident. “It was only about five minutes,” he said of the time from when he left the bank to when he received the call.

A Wells Fargo security representative was at the bank Thursday and advised Clendenin to say no more. Inquiries were directed to Lara Underhill, communications manager for Wells Fargo in Western Washington.

“We don’t comment on robberies,” Underhill said from her Seattle office. “We don’t want to impede the investigation.”

Locally, news of the robbery seems to have traveled slowly. Carol Flax, president of the Clinton Progressive Association, got the news where many people do. “I just heard about it from my hairdresser yesterday,” she said Friday morning. “It’s kind of creepy.”

This may be the first time the bank has been robbed in all its incarnations. Sue Davenny worked there for 21 years, first as Island Savings & Loan, then InterWest and finally Wells Fargo, retiring in 2000.

She hadn’t heard about the robbery until told about it Friday. “Yikes, that’s bad,” she said. In all her years as a teller she never had to deal with a bank robber.

The Wells Fargo branch is located on Highway 525 at the intersection of Deer Lake Road.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said detectives are awaiting enhanced video from the Department of Transportation that may show the robber and the getaway vehicle.

He said detectives have limited evidence and are hoping to receive additional information from the public. Anyone with knowledge of the robbery is asked to call tips in at 321-4400.

Record editor Jim Larsen contributed to this story.

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