Air Force personnel joined local law enforcement responding to Friday morning’s bank robbery at New Mexico Bank & Trust. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer
A device a man used to rob a Clovis bank on Friday was not a bomb as he claimed, police said.
Cannon Air Force Base explosives experts determined the “box-type device” was not explosive, officials said.
Members of the Cannon Explosives Ordnance Disposal team spent more than an hour at the scene at Hilltop Plaza shopping center, and declared the area safe about 1 p.m. Friday.
The unidentified man who said he had a bomb robbed the Hilltop branch of Clovis’ New Mexico Bank & Trust just before 11 a.m., police said.
The suspect, who got away with an undisclosed amount of money, had not been apprehended as of late Friday.
The investigation is ongoing and the Clovis Police Department is working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to follow leads, according to police.
Clovis Police Lt. James Schoeffel said the robber placed a “box-type device” on a bank counter, demanded money and left with an undisclosed amount of cash, heading north on foot.
He was described as a white male, 30 to 40 years old, with a slim build, about 6-foot-2 with dark hair.
He was wearing a blond wig, a blue or black baseball cap and a long-sleeved, button-down, blue shirt and blue pants.
Because of the bomb scare, Clovis police evacuated the shopping center, which involved at least 20 businesses and more than 100 people, Schoeffel said.
Cannon EOD has assisted police numerous times in the past, and has proven to be an invaluable asset to the community, Schoeffel said.
Fire and ambulance officials were on the scene in addition to police and the Curry County Sheriff’s Department. For more than two hours, sections of 21st, Main and Mitchell streets surrounding the shopping center were closed.
Officials cleared the bank, S&S Supermarket, Gym X, Furr’s cafeteria and other businesses in the shopping center.
Bill Elwell, Special Agent with the FBI in Albuquerque, said agents from Roswell are assisting Clovis police and will remain in the area until all logical leads have been covered.
There is no indication of a get-away vehicle or information regarding the suspect’s trail after he was last seen on foot leaving the scene, Elwell said.
Elwell said he does not know if surveillance footage or photos have been seized as part of the investigation.
Normally the FBI makes surveillance photos available in hopes the public can assist in identification, Elwell said.
Clovis police officials said bank robberies are rare in Clovis and Friday’s was the first since 2004. In that case, a woman who said she was assaulted while making a deposit after hours was later arrested on suspicion of embezzlement.