White Rock on alert following armed bank robbery at LANB

-A A +A

Reward of up to $1,000 offered for information on suspect

Los Alamos Monitor


White Rock residents were warned to stay in their homes and lock their doors following an armed robbery at 11:50 a.m. Tuesday at the Los Alamos National Bank branch.

A white male, armed, had entered the bank with his face covered and demanded money. The teller handed it over, according to the FBI.

The suspect then fled on foot. He was described as 5-foot 10-inches to 6-feet tall with a thin build.
Witnesses told the FBI, which is investigating the case, that he was dressed in all black, including a black hoodie with the initials “DC” on it and a black ball cap.

“He ran that way and disappeared,” said Los Alamos Police Chief Dino Sgambellone, who stood behind crime tape surrounding the bank branch on Rover on Tuesday afternoon. He pointed towards Rover, a street that intersects many residential streets on the east side of White Rock.

The public school superintendent announced lockdown at White Rock’s two elementary, noting that he had been told shots were fired. Kim Roberts, director of a preschool near the bank, reported hearing a loud noise, like a backfiring vehicle, around the time of the robbery.

Los Alamos police would not confirm later Tuesday that shots had been fired. They referred all queries to the FBI which has taken over the case.

The FBI announced Tuesday that a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the robber has been offered.
A woman who did not wish to be identified said she was startled at mid-day Tuesday when a man started yelling at her front door, and when she called out, he asked to use her phone because he had run out of gas.

The woman said when she looked out, she saw two men, one who appeared to be holding something black in his hand standing near her front door, and another man, very winded, standing away from him near a pine tree.

She saw the pair run away when she wouldn’t let one of them in.

“They were running together towards Aragon,” she said.

Strangers knocking on doors in the middle of a weekday is rare in White Rock, she said.

A law enforcement helicopter hovered overhead throughout the afternoon searching for the single suspect, while residents reported they were being interviewed by FBI agents who were looking for witnesses. The residents reported the FBI agents were working with witnesses to develop a composite picture of the bank robber.

Law enforcement officers from Los Alamos, State Police and the FBI flooded into White Rock, while heavily armed law enforcement officers could be seen walking through brush between NM 4 and a nearby canyon.

Law enforcement officers also searched the canyons surrounding the residential area, which is a bedroom community for Los Alamos.

Anyone with information is asked to call the FBI at 505-889-1300. Tips can also be submitted online at tips.fbi.gov.

The two public elementary schools in White Rock were shut down following reports of shots fired at the scene.

“We’re on a heightened alert, shades are closed and nobody goes in or out. Our request is that nobody go to the school right now,” said Los Alamos Public Schools superintendent Kurt Steinhaus following reports of the incident.

The school district contacted every early childhood day care center in White Rock, Steinhaus said.

Maria Campbell, with her two daughters, Charlie, 3, and Abby, 10. The little one is a student at Sage Cottage School, and the 10-year-old is at Chamisa Elementary. Sage Cottage School is a pre-school near the bank.

“It was a little frightening that the school was very close. But the schools did a really good job of informing us. We got information right away through texts and emails,” Campbell said.

Edna Campos, a parent with a child at Sage Cottage School, said the school handled the situation.

“They kept the parents informed and that’s just what we want,” Campos said.

Steinhaus said the schools are working with the Los Alamos Police Department and all LAPS students would be released at their usual time.

No buses would run from the high school or middle school to White Rock following the incident, Steinhaus reported.

Parents of middle and high school students were advised to pick up their students at their schools.

Parents of Chamisa and Pinon students were asked to go to their child’s school, to come prepared to show identification, report to the office, and follow instructions for release of their children.

The White Rock LANB branch was the scene of a robbery in February 2014 – a suspect in that robbery has not been caught