Anya Tikka | Democrat
Uniformed police officers arrived at the scene from surrounding Highland and Lumberland Constabularies and the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, but taking the lead in the investigation were State Troopers from Liberty who were at the scene first. Pictured from left are Detective Sergeant Jason Gorr from the Sheriff’s Office, Bob Maas from the Lumberland Constabulary and Deputy Sheriff JR Gagliardo.
Eldred Jeff Bank
Story by Anya Tikka
ELDRED September 27, 2013 The usually quiet hamlet of Eldred has seen the lightning strike twice at the same spot or at least the same Jeff Bank Branch, robbed for the second time in 19 months on Wednesday morning.
This time, a lone man walked down Eldred Yulan Road (County Route 33), crossed behind “The Piazza” adjacent to the bank, pulled on his mask, entered the bank on State Route 55 and was out within a few moments with an undetermined amount of money.
The surveillance cameras that record the area around The Corner shop reveal that he then walked away the same way he came, disappearing from sight down Route 33 toward Yulan, according to Lou Monteleone, who owns the store and the Piazza.
“At 11:35 a.m. the panic alarm went to the alarm company, and then a 911 call to Sullivan County. The suspect entered the bank, displayed a handgun, and demanded money,” explained State Trooper Lieutenant Sal Mecca from the Liberty barracks, who was handling inquiries at the scene. “We don’t know exactly how much money he was handed. He walked out of the front door, up Eldred-Yulan Road, and then Clark Road which is the first road to the right. That’s where he was last seen.”
Mecca continued, “We used a canine.… He did a track, it ended at a location where a car had been parked. He is believed to have gotten into a car, and driven off. It was a white sedan.”
The suspect is described as white male, about 5-foot-11 with heavy facial hair, and wearing a white or tan hoodie. Bank employees were not immediately available for comment after the robbery.
The State Police sealed the entrance, and a forensic unit took pictures and prints of the crime scene.
Those around the bank didn’t notice anything in the short few moments that it took for the robber to act.
Marie Newking, who works at the Doobies This and That right across from the bank, said she saw nothing unusual, and only knew about the robbery because the police officers came and took her traffic cone, moving it across the street. She said her neighboring business owner thought she had seen some young guys hanging around, acting suspicious.
Eldred High School went into a “stay-put” mode as a result of the robbery. High School Principal Scott Krebs explained, “I got a call from our School Resource Officer at the Sheriff’s Office and also from [the State] Police. We immediately inspected the school perimeter and closed all the doors.”
A “stay-put” is less severe than a full lockdown. The students were told to stay in their rooms and police officers were inspecting the corridors.
“It was a little scary,” said 15-year old 10th grader Melissa McMonagle after the students were released, the buses arrived and everyone was told to go home.
“The police stayed until close of day… and I made the decision to cancel all after-school activities,” Krebs continued. The precautions were taken because the robber had a gun.
At The Corner store to meet her niece was Laryssa Sudak, who works at the cafeteria in George Ross Mackenzie Elementary School in Glen Spey. She said once the “stay put” was announced, the kids acted very calmly.
“They have practice runs, they knew what to do,” Sudak said, adding she was not really scared, and had to stay calm for the kids.
State Police in Liberty referred inquiries to State Police Troop F headquarters in Middletown.
“We are following leads. We have strong leads. We spoke to witnesses. He was a white male driving a white car,” said Chief Investigator Thorpe.
Anyone with information about this robbery is asked to contact the NYS Police in Liberty at 292-6600.
What happened last time
Story by Anya Tikka
ELDRED September 27, 2013 Flashback…
In August, 2012, John Armbruster, 52, of Monticello, was sentenced in Sullivan County Court to 12⁄3 to five years in state prison for the daytime robbery of the Eldred branch of the Jeff Bank.
Armbruster previously entered a guilty plea to robbery in the third degree. On the morning of February 17, 2012, Armbruster entered the bank and handed the teller a note stating he had a gun and wanted money. The teller gave him $2,945 and he then fled the bank.
Armbruster was arrested after an investigation by the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office.
Judge Michael McGuire also ordered Armbruster to pay $2,945 in restitution and issued a permanent order of protection for the bank and the employees inside at the time of the robbery.