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Police investigate bank robbery in Rotterdam

Police investigate bank robbery in Rotterdam

Nearby schools briefly placed on lockout
Police investigate bank robbery in Rotterdam
A police officer stands watch outside a Pioneer bank branch in Rotterdam that was robbed Friday morning.
Photographer: Peter Barber/Daily Gazette photographer

ROTTERDAM -- Police were looking Friday for a man who robbed a Pioneer Bank branch on Altamont Avenue.

Rotterdam police Detective Lt. William Male described the suspect as 5 feet, six inches to six feet tall, heavy set, Hispanic or a light-skinned black man in his 20s or 30s. He wore blue jeans and a gray hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up. He also said the suspect was wearing black shoes or boots.

Male said the suspect handed a teller a note around 10:10 a.m. on Friday that indicated he had a gun and that warned the teller not to call police.

The suspect did not display a weapon, Male said.

Update: Niskayuna man charged in Rotterdam bank robbery, Jan. 13, 2019

The teller gave the suspect money and the man fled down Elizabeth Street toward Deforest Street, Male said. He said police do know much money was taken, but declined to disclose the amount.

“Typically we don’t release the exact value,” Male said.

The teller was shaken up, but was otherwise fine, Male said. He added that no one was injured during the incident.

The handful of customers who were inside when the robbery occurred were seemingly unaware of what was happening. They only learned of it after police were called and arrived.

“It seems this was so nonchalant, quiet and swift that no one knew what was going on or paid attention to the individual,” Male said. “I would say [the customers] were in there for 20 to 30 minutes before we sifted through everything and got each of their stories.”

Investigators were examining images captured on security cameras in the area in an effort to determine whether the suspect got into a vehicle at any point, Male said. He added police were looking to speak with nearby residents who have surveillance cameras on their homes, but none were home at the time.

Police also visited Uptown Beverage, which is adjacent to the bank on Altamont Avenue, to see if the store’s surveillance cameras caught any images of the suspect. A cashier at the store, who declined to provide his name, said the store has cameras, but they are only focused on the entrance.

The cashier, who is also employed by a different bank, said he became aware something had happened at the bank when he saw the bank’s drive-thru was closed.

“The bank will not shut closed like that unless something happened,” he said. “When I saw the police car coming in I said, ‘Yeah, looked like someone robbed the bank.’”

The manager of one nearby business was a little upset that the police hadn’t visited her shop by early Friday afternoon.

Kristin Bailey, manager of the Brown Bag Sub Shoppe 2, which is also adjacent to the bank, said she didn’t know a robbery had occurred until a customer asked her what happened. When she saw the police cars arrive, Bailey said she was able to figure it out.

“We had no idea what was happening until it was already said and done,” Bailey said.

Police didn’t visit the shop to see if anyone in the store had seen anything, she said. Bailey said she thought it could have been helpful for police to have more people on the lookout.

“Especially since it’s literally right next door and we know the people [at the bank] pretty well,” Bailey said. “Yeah, I’m very shocked that the police hadn’t been over here to question us or at least warn us so that we could have had our eyes out.”

Male said he planned to have an officer go over to the store when asked by The Daily Gazette about why police hadn’t dropped by. However, he did have a potential explanation as to why nobody did.

“The reason probably nobody did go there is we got information [the suspect] didn’t go in that direction,” Male said.

Mohonasen High School and Draper Middle School, both of which are near the bank branch, were initially put on lockout as a precaution Friday morning. But the lockout was lifted at around 11 a.m. after district officials determined the schools were in no danger, according to a statement by district officials.

Police are asking anyone with information about the robbery to call the Rotterdam Police Department's Detective Division at 518-355-7397.

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