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article imageBank Robberies, Exploding Backpack, Murder, Local Police Kept Busy

By Lew Waters     Apr 29, 2008 in Crime
Vancouver, Washington, Just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, enjoys a crime rate less than the National Average in most categories. A spate of bank robberies in the last few days threatens to change all that.
Saturday, April 26 saw a group of hooded men drive up to a local Bank America branch in a Cadillac Escalade. Three entered with hooded sweatshirts and bandanas around 1 PM, just before closing, ordering all to lie on the floor, brandishing pistols.
Taking three Bank employees into the vault, they took an undetermined amount of money while ordering employees not to put dye packs in the bag or trip any alarms. The rest of the employees and two patrons were then shut in the vault as the masked men made their escape.
Monday, April 28 saw a white male, clean shaven with a thin build, light brown hair enter a Peoples Community Credit Union wearing blue jeans, white and black windbreaker with a white and black baseball cap and sunglasses.
After robbing the Credit Union branch, he fled on foot. Police sealed off the area to search for the suspect, but he remains free.
Tuesday, April 29, a masked man approached the Northwest Navigation Federal Credit Union shortly before they were scheduled to open. Finding the doors still locked, he fired two shots through the glass door, shattering it and reached inside, opened the door and entered.
Holding his gun at the Bank manager, he entered the vault, took money and fled, also on foot. He was last seen walking away from the Credit Union carrying a black bag containing the money he stole.
Police conducted a house to house search while near by schools were ‘locked down.’ He too remains at large.
The 3 robberies do not appear connected and range across Clark County. All appear to have been pulled off by different robbers. Fortunately, no injuries have been reported.
Shortly before 2 PM this afternoon, two Evergreen High School staff and one student suffered minor burns when a baggie inside the students backpack exploded while being searched.
The student had violated school rules by bringing Black-Eyed Snap Peas, the type of firework that explodes with a loud snap when thrown down and impacting a hard surface. He had emptied some of the fireworks, removing the protective lubricant that prevents them from going off with mild or moderate impact.
The student was not transported to the hospital, as were the two staff members.
Police cordoned off the area and the bomb squad was called in, but quickly determined there was no real threat. John Chapman, a Vancouver Police Lieutenant said, “It was just really a loud bang,” indicating no immediate damage to any surrounding fixtures.
The unidentified 17 year-old student was released to his parents. Disciplinary actions by the school have not been announced.
Moving across the Columbia River into Portland today, a section of Powell Blvd., a major artery through the city, was closed after shots were fired during an armed robbery at an Apartment complex.
At the time of this writing, Powell Blvd. Is still closed as Police continue investigating and searching for the robbers.
A tragic Murder Suicide rounded out the crime-ridden day as a woman was gunned down by her estranged husband in the parking lot of the Police Station she was fleeing to for protection.
Her vehicle was rammed by her husbands pick up truck in front of the Police Station and she was shot to death before she could exit the vehicle. The man then turned the rifle on himself and pulled the trigger.
She was pronounced dead at the scene, but he survived for a short while, dying in the hospital within hours of the shooting.
The couple has not been identified.
Sadly, the Chief of Police sat helplessly, watching the shooting unfold from his office window as he tried to get back up into the area to help.
While crime locally isn’t rare, it is highly unusual to experience this much in such a short period of time. Some locals feel it is just the beginning as the economy worsens and prices continue to rise.
As one said to this writer, “people are desperate to feed their families.” He was reminded that people trying to feed their families don’t rob banks at gunpoint. Those are just greedy criminals.
Many of the gangsters and criminals that gained notoriety during the Great Depression of the 1930’s received a degree of sympathetic fame through movies of the 1960’s. It should be remembered that when they robbed banks, often killing employees, they didn’t steal the banks money; they stole the money deposited by the banks customers, you and me.
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