2 indicted in attempted Palisade bank robbery
Two men are accused in an aborted armed robbery at a Palisade bank in 2011 — possibly the first of its kind in the town’s 109-year history — when a police officer was disarmed at gunpoint.
Jose O. Jimenez, 27, of San Bernardino, Calif., was arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Denver after a grand jury indictment on three counts, including attempted robbery with a firearm at Palisades National Bank on Aug. 20, 2011, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He remains in federal custody in Denver.
Bryan R. Morrow, 21, of Grand Junction, is being held on unrelated charges in Grand Junction and is expected to make an initial appearance next Wednesday in Grand Junction. Morrow was indicted on a single count of attempted robbery with a firearm.
Jimenez was charged by the grand jury with additional counts of being a fugitive in possession of a firearm, as well as possession of a stolen firearm: a Glock 22 .40 caliber semi-automatic handgun allegedly stolen from a Palisade police officer. Jimenez was a fugitive from Washington state at the time.
Affidavits in the case were filed under seal in federal court. Palisade Police Chief Tony Erickson said an investigation remains active.
Erickson declined to comment when asked if the Palisade officer’s stolen handgun has been recovered. Authorities in 2011 had searched canals and orchards around town for a discarded police weapon.
“Certainly, a crime like this impacts a smaller town and police agency much harder,” Erickson said. “Thanks to the hard work of the Palisade Police Department and the FBI, we were able to identify those responsible for this.”
The botched robbery at Palisades National, which has since been renamed Colorado National Bank at 600 W. Eighth St., happened during the peak of the Palisade Peach Festival and was believed by several longtime local residents to have been the first attempt at a bank robbery in Palisade’s history.
“It’s not a lot different than the double homicide (1993) at the Livery Saloon in terms of the shock of it,” thent Palisade Police Chief Carroll Quarles said in a 2011 interview with The Daily Sentinel.
Authorities have said a man with a hooded sweatshirt, a ski mask, sunglasses and gloves walked into the bank around 8:15 a.m. after confronting the bank’s president at gunpoint in the parking lot.
Responding to a silent alarm, a Palisade officer walked inside the bank — he didn’t call inside prior to entering — and was ambushed by the suspect, who took the officer’s gun.
When the suspect walked away from the disarmed officer and into another room, the officer sprinted for the front door and the suspect gave chase. The door locked behind them.
The suspect stole a bank employee’s van, abandoned it less than a quarter of a mile away at 37 1/10 and G 4/10 roads, then disappeared.
Police responding from across the Grand Valley searched the area but found nothing.
Quarles has said the suspect inside the bank had a walkie-talkie-type device and was described by witnesses as being in contact with another man.
Citing the ongoing investigation, authorities Friday declined to reveal more about the case.
“Mistakes were made, policies were not adhered to,” Quarles told the Sentinel in 2011, as his officer was criticized in the handling of the bank alarm call. “For the seriousness of the mistakes that were made, this could not have turned out any better: Nobody was hurt, no money was stolen and the only thing damaged here is the pride of the officer and the reputation of the Police Department.”
Court records show Morrow, at the time a resident of 3040 Teller Ave., was arrested Jan. 22 of this year on suspicion of drug-related charges in a traffic stop on the Interstate 70 Business Loop and 32 Road.
The arresting officer observed Morrow had a hunting-style knife in a sheath on his belt and was wearing a bulletproof vest, according to an arrest affidavit. Officers found methamphetamine and syringes inside the vehicle.
Morrow, in explaining the weapon and vest, said people were “after him,” the affidavit said.