Search For Gunman Continues

Search For Gunman Continues A camera in Wakonda's First Premier Bank captured the robber before he fled and drove away in the bank manager's pickup at approximately noon Tuesday. by David Lias Wakonda Postmaster Bruce Schild is usually visited by local residents who simply want to pick up their mail and chew the fat for awhile.

Late Tuesday morning, he played host to three shaken tellers who ran out the back door of First Premier Bank on Wakonda's Main Street to escape a robber.

"They came in and said it (the bank) was being robbed," Schild said. "The girls came over from the bank as it was in progress, and we stood at the front window and toward the back (of the post office) to see if we could see him leave.

"He did come out and he got in the bank manager's truck and took off heading north," he said.

The stolen vehicle, a 2001 maroon/silver Chevrolet pickup truck with an extended cab, was recovered at approximately 6 p.m. Tuesday.

"We found the vehicle west of Wakonda," Clay County Sheriff Andy Howe said. "It was abandoned. A property owner located it and contacted us."

Schild called 911 to inform the Clay County Sheriff's Office of the robbery. He also contacted his rural mail carriers and told them to keep an eye out for the vehicle.

The tellers arrived at the post office at approximately 11:45 a.m.

Schild said the robber drove away at approximately 11:55 a.m.

According to a news report released by Clay County Sheriff Andy Howe late Tuesday afternoon, officers responded to a report of a man wearing a dark ski mask, heavy jacket, and gloves who had entered the bank carrying what appeared to be a shotgun and demanded money.

The robber was described to be approximately 5'8" tall and stocky in build.

According to Howe's statement, the suspect received an, as yet, undetermined amount of cash in the robbery. There were no injuries to anyone involved.

An audit was conducted at the bank to determine how much cash was stolen. As of Wednesday morning, Howe hadn't received a dollar figure.

"It's in the tens of thousands," he said.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol assisted in the response

Continued on page 12

to the robbery. The FBI and South Dakota DCI are assisting the Clay County Sheriff's Office with the robbery investigation.

Anyone with information regarding the robbery or suspect is encouraged to contact the Clay County Sheriff's Office at (605) 677-7100.

"Essentially, we're just following all leads that are coming in," Howe said Wednesday morning. "Tips from the public are coming in, and we encourage that. We're following up on each one."

Schild didn't get a very good look at the robber.

"I basically saw him in the vehicle," he said. "I looked down (the street) and I saw someone getting into a truck, but he was behind another vehicle because one of the other bank employees was parked in front of him."

Schild said it appeared the robber's face was covered with a blue stocking cap, with holes for his eyes and mouth.

"He looked to be white, caucasian," he said. "He had a mask on and a bag."

The tellers told Schild that the robber came into the bank and sat down, waiting for a customer to leave.

"Then he got up and walked directly into the bank manager's office, and that's where one of the tellers heard him say something to the effect of, 'looks like I'm going to take some of your money today.'

"The girl that heard that told the other two girls to go

out the back door and she went out with them and they came over here (to the post office)," Schild said.

Temperatures were frigid Tuesday, and a strong wind was blowing down Main Street, making conditions miserable.

It wasn't the cold, however, that had the tellers shaking when they arrived at the post office.

"They were all three kind of nervous and jittery when they came in here, accordingly so," Schild said.

"Our staff members followed our robbery procedures exactly," said Dana Dykhouse, president and CEO of First Premier Bank in a written statement Tuesday. "We are thankful no one was injured. Our focus is on the safety and well being or our staff."

"Right now, we're just working the case," Howe said Wednesday. "There's nothing new to report. We're asking everybody and anybody we see, and we're encouraging people with the slightest lead or bit of information they might have to call us. We're following up on all of it."

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