Would-be robber of Fruita bank at large

An officer patrol outside Grand Valley National Bank in Fruita after an attempted robbery before the bank opened Friday morning.

A man fled from a botched bank robbery in Fruita on Friday morning when his would-be victim refused to provide keys to the bank, authorities said.

The man, described as 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall with a medium build, was wearing a black, hooded sweatshirt, light-colored pants, a camouflage mask and had black face paint, Fruita Police Chief Mark Angelo said.

Angelo said a woman who was opening Grand Valley National Bank, 452 S. Maple St., was approached by the suspect outside the bank at 7:18 a.m. He claimed to have a gun, at one point lifting up his shirt and showing the woman a partially obscured object, Angelo said.

“We believe it probably was a gun,” he said.

When the suspect demanded keys to the bank and the woman’s car keys, she refused and walked away, according to Angelo.

Across the street at Judy’s Family Restaurant, 435 U.S. Highway 6&50, waitress Christine Eastwood said a woman ran up to the front door of the restaurant at approximately 7:25 a.m. and told them to call police.

“I think her main priority was warning other (bank) employees,” Eastwood said, noting the woman was talking on her cellphone but wasn’t speaking with law enforcement.

Eastwood said the woman briefly spoke about the encounter with the suspect, explaining he’d approached her from the side as she was about to open a door to the bank. She said he swore at her, demanding the keys. It was still dark outside.

“I guess she headed for the lights, bless her heart,” Eastwood said.

Fruita police, Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputies and Colorado State Patrol troopers surrounded the bank as authorities initially were unsure if the suspect made it inside. The bank was cleared at approximately 8:30 a.m. A police dog from the Grand Junction Police Department was brought to the scene, but the attempt to track the suspect wasn’t successful.

Angelo said bank surveillance shows the suspect running from the bank, headed east.

Angelo downplayed possible similarities between Friday’s incident and the Aug. 20 attempted robbery of Palisades National Bank in Palisade.

In that case, a man confronted a bank employee in the parking lot before the start of business, disarmed a responding police officer and fled in a vehicle owned by a bank employee whose keys were taken by the suspect.

In both cases, no cash was stolen, and nobody was hurt.

Anybody with information about Friday’s attempted robbery is asked to call Fruita police at 858-3008, the FBI at 242-8360 or Mesa County Crime Stoppers, 241-STOP.


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