Less than a half-mile away from Old Campus, the Webster Bank was robbed last Thursday afternoon.
Officers from the New Haven Police Department arrived at 80 Elm St. on Thursday at 2:23 p.m. after bank officials reported the robbery. While the police did not immediately release information about the robbery, NHPD spokesperson David Hartman sent an email Friday detailing reports from bank officials. These officials, according to the email, said that the suspect approached a bank teller and passed a note that read, “Empty all the drawers or get shot.” According to Hartman, the suspect did not reveal a weapon to bank employees or customers.
“We’re just relieved that no one was hurt,” said the bank’s Vice President of External Communications Sarah Barr.
This incident took place just a few days after a robbery at the Ion Bank in Waterbury, a nearby town just over 20 miles from New Haven, according to a representative from the Waterbury Police Department who asked to remain anonymous because of police department policies. Hartman said this bank experienced a similar robbery to the one in New Haven, adding that the suspect of the Webster Bank robbery has a similar description to the Waterbury robbery suspect. Hartman added that NHPD and Waterbury Police Department detectives are working together to investigate both robberies.
Images from security footage and descriptions from bank officials identify the suspect for the Webster Bank robbery as a black man, approximately six feet tall. The images also reveal that the suspect wore thick-framed eyeglasses and gray sweatpants. The images show that the man wore a gray sweatshirt with the word “Columbia” printed on the front.
After reading the note, the teller gave the robber an unspecified amount of cash. The bundle of money contained a red dye pack, which exploded on the suspect as he fled from the bank to the corner of Elm and Orange Streets. The red dye stained the suspect’s clothing and the stolen cash.
Hartman said that while tracking the suspect police found some scattered cash. In a nearby alleyway, the police recovered more red-stained cash as well as the suspect’s clothing. Hartman added that the NHPD forensic unit also collected evidence from the scene, the specifics of which were not revealed in the email.
The police were able to track the suspect to the rear of the New Haven County Courthouse at 121 Elm St., where they found red dye on a fence that they suspect he climbed.
The police also used the K-9 unit to track the robber, but the police dog sent to track the suspect lost his scent several blocks away from the courthouse. Hartman said the loss of a scent trail indicates that the suspect may have continued in a bus or vehicle.
Barr said the police interviewed all of the bank’s employees present at the time of the robbery, but she did not provide further comment due to the ongoing nature of the investigation.
Following the robbery, the bank was temporarily closed as detectives worked inside. A sign posted on the front door informed visitors that the bank was closed due to an emergency. The bank reopened to customers on Friday.
Police tape blocked off the area surrounding the bank as officers and detectives carried out their investigation. Red dye from the exploding dye pack could be seen on the side of an Orange Street building.
Hartman said the police are encouraging people who can identify the suspect or have information that could help detectives to contact the NHPD. Calls to the police may be made anonymously, he added.
Webster Bank signed a sponsorship agreement with Yale University Athletics last February, designating Webster as “The Official Bank of Yale Athletics.”