'Good police work': Bank of O'Fallon robbery suspect may have hit other banks

News-DemocratOctober 15, 2013 

Police capture man suspected of robbing Bank of O'Fallon Tuesday October 15th, 2013. The suspect fled on foot after abandoning his car in a ditch surrounded by corn fields.


— After a two-hour search, police arrested a man in Swansea suspected of robbing the Bank of O'Fallon on Tuesday.

The man might be responsible for other bank robberies outside of Illinois, O'Fallon Interim Police Chief Jeff Wild said. The FBI spent Tuesday afternoon interviewing the suspect.

The Bank of O'Fallon at the intersection of U.S. 50 and Lincoln Street in O'Fallon was robbed about 11:30 a.m. Because there are not yet any formal charges, the man's identity has not been released.

The man walked into the main bank building, showed a handwritten note and implied a weapon, Wild said.

The man ran to a vehicle and drove away. Wild said detectives did not have a description of the suspect's vehicle, but police soon spotted a vehicle they thought looked out of place and tried to pull the car over.

"That's what we call good police work, good instincts," Wild said.

Wild described how police captured the suspect:

"One of our officers in an unmarked car was looking for people leaving the area that looked suspicious to him," Wild said. "At 50 and Green Mount, he noticed this gentleman who looked out of place and followed him for a short distance. When he tried to pull him over, he started to flee. ... He followed him until the weather and the road conditions dictated he not follow him any more."

About 40 officers from O'Fallon, Fairview Heights, Swansea, Belleville, Shiloh, the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department, the U.S. Marshals Service and a search plane from the Illinois State Police continued searching for the suspect.

A Belleville police officer spotted the car in a cornfield near the intersection of Smelting Works Road and Corporate Drive in Swansea.

Wild confirmed that the vehicle, found in the 3700 block of Smelting Works Road, matched the description of the one used in the bank robbery.

At about 1:30 p.m., police spread out over the search area and suddenly converged on a wooded area bordered by a cornfield near the Illinois auto emissions testing facility and Commerce Lane.

"I can tell you it was tough walking," Wild said. "The Belleville officers did an incredible job going through corn and mud, weeds and thicket. You name it, they went through it."

Officers found the suspect about a quarter of a mile away from the abandoned vehicle, Wild said.

"The Belleville officers followed the tracks and as they did, they pushed him toward me," Wild said. "I found him lying in the grass and as I walked up to him, his arms went straight up in the air."

The suspect was hustled into the back of a police car and taken away. He was arrested without incident and no one was injured during the robbery or the search.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or call 239-2626. Contact reporter Jennifer A. Schaaf at jschaaf@bnd.com or call 239-2667.

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