UPDATE | Lone gunman holds-up Juanita bank; Armed and dangerous
February 18, 2009 · Updated 6:11 PM
Authorities believe a lone gunman suspected in the President's Day weekend robbery of a Juanita bank is also responsible for a bank hold-up yesterday in Issaquah.
According to FBI special agent Roberta Burrows, the man first struck a US Bank branch Feb. 12 at around 2:45 p.m. in unincorporated Juanita. He displayed a handgun to the teller, passed a note which demanded cash and quickly left the scene with the money before King County Sheriff's deputies arrived.
Then yesterday, the FBI said a man matching the description of the suspect robbed a WAMU bank branch in Issaquah using the same methods. He fled in 1998 red Ford Mustang with aftermarket rims.
No known associates are available at this time and police and FBI investigators did not disclose the amount of money taken during the robbery.
According to an FBI advisory released Wednesday, the suspect is a Hispanic or Southeast Asian man in his 40s, 5 feet 9 inches tall, medium build and was wearing an army coat, blue jeans and sunglasses.
He is considered armed and dangerous.
In the aftermath of the US Bank robbery last week, employees were uninjured but appeared to be shaken up. The branch manager, who refused to give her name, immediately closed the branch and asked Kirkland Reporter staff to leave bank property.
A number of customers appeared bewildered by the early closing until a sign appeared on the glass main door: "This branch is temporarily closed due to an emergency." Emil Daniyelyan, 32, was trying to drop off payroll for his business before the holiday weekend when the sign and police presence took him by surprise. An immigrant from Azerbaijan who recently received his US citizenship, he said the Eastside was a desirable place to work and live because of good people and safe neighborhoods.
"It surprises me to see this here," he said.
Another passerby in a burgundy colored mini-van stopped to ask what was happening. Told the bank had been robbed, she deadpanned in response: "Well, people are desperate."
The brazen daylight robbery appears to be part of a spate of bank robberies across the Seattle Metro area, said King County Detective Mike Mellis, but not necessarily a pattern.
"It's no secret, there's (an increase)," he said. "But these are all individual guys making their own decisions."
It was the first bank robbery in Kirkland this year.
As of Feb. 12, the robbery is the 35th in the state this year, according to agent Burrows. There were 21 such incidents at the same point in 2008 which finished with the lowest number of bank robberies in 20 years.
US Bank operates four branches in Kirkland.
Members of the public are encouraged to contact King County detectives with any information relating to the case at 206-296-5020.
This is a developing story. Kirkland Reporter will update the story as more information becomes available.