By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer
The man who robbed a Clovis bank on Friday morning calmly walked out after leaving what he claimed was a bomb on the counter, according to a witness who asked not to be identified.
The device was later determined to be nonexplosive, officials said.
The witness, whose identity is being withheld by the Clovis News Journal because of his safety concerns, said he entered the bank behind the suspect to make a deposit for the business where he works. Initially he didn’t notice anything amiss, he said.
The suspect approached the counter ahead of the witness, who noticed the man wearing a baseball cap with long, blond dreadlocks sewn into it.
He said the suspect stood more than 6 feet tall and was wearing sunglasses.
“He told the clerk, ‘This is a bomb,’ and then he walked out of the bank like it was nothing,” the witness said.
The suspect left carrying a white plastic grocery bag in his hand — the witness said he couldn’t see what was inside.
The witness said there was a device on a counter in the bank that looked like two sticks taped together with a remote control taped on top.
Two women working in the bank stood still behind the counter, as if afraid to move, according to the witness.
He said he didn’t understand what was happening until the man in the baseball cap had left and the tellers yelled at him to leave, he said.
“They told me to ‘get out, there’s a bomb,’” he said. His main concern was for their safety, he said, having known them from years of doing business there.
“I just wanted to get the girls out of the bank — they weren’t moving,” he said.
When he walked outside, he saw the man calmly walking north past Little Caesar’s Pizza, still holding the bag, he said.
“He ran when he saw me come out like he thought I was chasing him,” the witness said.
Police were on the scene in a short period of time, he said.
“It’s one of them days where you know you should have stayed home,” he said.
The robbery occurred just before 11 a.m. Friday at a branch of New Mexico Bank & Trust at Hilltop Plaza shopping center.
Police evacuated the area for more than two hours before police tape was removed and people were allowed to return to the shopping center; officers continued their investigation at the bank, police said.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel from Cannon Air Force Base were called to the scene to assist police and deal with the suspected bomb, Police Lt. Jim Schoeffel said.
According to Schoeffel, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation have joined in the case, customary anytime a bank is robbed.
Police are following leads, Schoeffel said, but had not apprehended the suspect by Friday night.