Bank heist suspects nabbed

One of three bank robbery suspects is driven away by the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department on Friday afternoon.

The profile of a banks robbery suspect who was apprehended on Tropicana Drive is seen in the back of a MCSD cruiser.

Mesa County sheriff’s deputies wait for the FBI to arrive at Tropicana Drive after they took three suspected bank robbers into custody who were driving the maroon Ford pickup.

Three suspects believed to be connected to the armed robbery of a Cedaredge bank on Friday may have been involved in robberies in Rifle, Montrose and Grand Junction during the past two months, a Delta official said Friday.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputies took into custody two men and one woman during a traffic stop in Fruitvale after their Ford pickup matched a vehicle description offered by a witness. Their names were not immediately released.

Deputies said they found cash in the pickup after it was pulled over at 1:20 p.m. in the 600 block of Tropicana Drive. The money is presumed to be from Cedaredge’s Surface Creek Bank, 945 S. Grand Mesa Drive, which was held up at gunpoint just before 11 a.m. Friday, the authorities said.

“The MO (otherwise known as someone’s manner of working) are the same,” Delta County Sheriff’s Department Emergency Manager Rob Fielder said of the recent robberies. “This probably solves all four cases.”

Prior to the Cedaredge bank robbery Friday, Fielder said authorities suspected the three outstanding robberies may have been carried out by the same suspects.

In each holdup, a single suspect fled with cash. Rifle’s American National Bank, 429 Railroad Ave., was robbed May 27. Montrose’s Alpine Bank, 1400 E. Main St., was robbed June 23, and Grand Junction’s US Bank, 2448 F Road, was robbed Tuesday. In three of the four robberies, the suspect in the bank wore a surgical mask or a dust mask and had other similar physical descriptions, according to a comparison of police reports for those events.

Jeff Dorschner, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said a connection between the robberies “is one element that certainly is being looked at,” but it was too early in the investigation to make that determination.

Bank robberies usually are handled by the FBI because bank deposits are insured by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Dorschner said. As of Friday afternoon, the suspects had not been taken into federal custody, he said.

Police officers at the Cedaredge Police Department celebrated the speedy capture of Friday’s bank robbery suspects. The town, with two banks serving its population of less than 2,200, logged only one other bank robbery in its history, in 1975.

The suspect in that incident also was apprehended quickly, albeit by different means, Fielder said. The town marshal at that time loaded his shotgun and gathered his dogs, tracking and cornering the suspect until he surrendered.

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