|Lake County Sheriff’s Sgt. Don McPherson puts up crime scene tape around the Westamerica Bank in Middletown, Calif., after it was robbed on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. Photo by John Lindblom.|
MIDDLETOWN, Calif. – Authorities on Wednesday evening continued to search for a male suspect who allegedly robbed a Middletown bank earlier in the day.
The robbery at Westamerica Bank, located at 21058 Calistoga Road, occurred at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to reports from the scene.
A male suspect – who claimed that he had a gun – allegedly robbed the bank and then fled on foot, with deputies searching the surrounding area, including the vicinity of nearby businesses and Twin Pine Casino, radio reports indicated.
The suspect was described as a white male adult with a scruffy beard, in his late 20s, with his height estimated at between 5 feet 8 inches tall and 5 feet 10 inches tall.
He was said to be wearing all black clothing, including a hoodie, a bulky jacket and a black hat.
There were reports that the suspect may have been at the Tri-Counties Bank – a short distance away, at 21097 Calistoga Road – about an hour previous to the Westamerica robbery, although Tri-Counties was not hit.
The suspect also was spotted going into Hardester’s Market, located next door to Westamerica Bank, shortly before the alleged robbery.
A group of third grade Girl Scouts from HVL Troop No. 10649 was selling cookies at a table in front of Hardester's Market not more than 60 feet from the entrance to the Westamerica Bank when the robbery occurred, according to Scout Leader Melissa Clark.
Clark said that 15 minutes before the suspect allegedly robbed the bank, one of the girls in the troop tried to sell him cookies when he came out of Hardester’s.
“We saw him hanging around Hardester's and at some point he left Hardester's and went in the bank. We didn't see him go in the bank because we had our backs to him at that point,” she said.
She added, “When we found out he had robbed the bank we grabbed our girls and had them near us.”
Lake County Sheriff’s officials had Westamerica Bank cordoned off with crime scene tape and were continuing the robbery investigation early Wednesday evening.
Lake County News will continue to post updates as they become available.
John Lindblom contributed to this report.
Email Elizabeth Larson at [email protected] . Follow her on Twitter, @ERLarson, or Lake County News, @LakeCoNews.