Clown" holds up local bank
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
>First described as wearing clown-like clothes and a ski-mask, a young man jumped the counter at a local bank and ran off with cash stuffed in his clothesA 21-year-old man has learned that the easiest way to withdraw money from a bank isn't to simply jump over the counter and stuff your pockets.
The lone male entered the Prineville branch of Community First Bank shortly after 10 Tuesday morning and used that method to make a withdrawal and then fled. Police quickly responded to the bank and were told the man was last seen running northwest, down Second Street.
As the bank robber ran out the back door of the bank, an unidentified customer turned and began chasing him down Second Street toward Harwood. That chase ended, police officers say, when bills started falling from the robber's clothes and the bank customer stopped to pick up the bills.
Early reports described the man as wearing Carhart brand type overalls and a white shirt. His face was covered by a knitted ski-mask and the man had a backpack on his back. The overalls had bright colored patches, it was said, similar to what rodeo clowns wear.
Within minutes of the robbery, Prineville Police officers, Crook County Sheriff's deputies and state police troopers were on the scene and the street-by-street search began. The FBI office in Bend was also notified and responded to the bank immediately. The authorities quickly set up a perimeter and the extensive search process began.
Included in the search was Valko, the Prineville Police Department K-9 officer, and tracking dogs from the Deshutes County Sheriff's office.
Just slightly more than three hours after fleeing from the bank, a man matching the description of the suspect was spotted walking down West Seventh Street near Claypool. When officers asked to look in the backpack the man had, they were told no. With assistance from the FBI, the District Attorney's office was able to obtain a search warrant for the suspect's clothing and backpack. Sufficient evidence was found in the suspect's possession to cause the police to make the arrest.
Police Chief Jim Soules said afterward that no weapons had been used and, although the investigation is continuing, it looked as if no other person was involved.
Taken into custody and lodged at the county jail was Nathan James Elsea, aka Ipock. During his first appearance in court Wednesday afternoon, the accused stood before Judge Gary Thompson and heard the charges brought by his alleged actions; third degree robbery and first degree theft. Each, Thompson told Alea carry a sentence of five years in prison and $500,000 in fines if convicted. Throughout the hearing the defendent stood with head bowed and responded to the judge's questions with simple "yes" and "no" answers.
Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown informed the judge that although Elsea had carried identification listing a Salem address, he had been a Prineville resident and had returned and was living with his father at a Locust Street address.
Elsea was known to local authorities, Brown said, under that name and the last name of Ipock. A summary of the young man's juvenile files indicated a prior criminal history. The crimes he had been accused of included minor in possession, harassment, theft, criminal mischief, assault and being a runaway.
With that history, and because the accused apparently had few ties to the area, Brown asked that bail be set at $100,000. The case would be turned over to the grand jury later in the week, Brown said.
Judge Thompson, after appointing a public defender to represent Elsea, set security at $50,000 and scheduled the next hearing for Friday afternoon.
Through out the entire hearing, Elsea never once lifted his head or looked at anyone.
Chief Soules would not disclose the amount of cash taken in the robbery, although he did say it was not a great amount of cash.
Because of the intensity of the afternoon search of city streets and alleys, the discovery of a car having been stolen was made almost as soon as it was taken. For a time authorities thought the blue 1987 Ford Taurus might have been taken by the bank robber. Officers quickly broadened their search pattern and sent patrol cars out the various highways out of town.
Police agencies all over the central Oregon region were also notified and the car thief was captured early Wednesday morning in Lakeview. Reportedly the thief didn't have anything to do with the bank robbery and hadn't even know it was going on at the time.