Archive for Wednesday, January 20, 1999

GUN FIRED IN CREDIT UNION HEIST

January 20, 1999

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Three law enforcement agencies were investigating two robberies on Tuesday, in Lawrence and Overland Park, that may be related.

Federal and local authorities are searching for a man who fired a gun during the robbery of a local credit union Tuesday, then left in car that they believe was stolen at gunpoint hours earlier in a Kansas City suburb.

"We believe it was the same individual who was involved in both incidents," said Jeff Lanza, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Kansas City, Mo.

Lawrence police were called about 5 p.m. to Midwest Regional Credit Union, 1015 W. Sixth, where a man wielding a handgun fired a shot into the ceiling of the business and demanded cash, authorities said.

There were no injuries. Five people were in the credit union at the time, police said.

After obtaining an undetermined amount of cash, the man left the business and backed out of a driveway in a 1998 silver BMW and headed south on Maine Street, police said.

The vehicle matched the description of a car that was taken at gunpoint from a 19-year-old Overland Park man about 1:45 p.m. near College Boulevard and Quivira Road in Overland Park, authorities said.

A man matching a description of the suspect in the credit union robbery also fired a gun in that incident.

The suspect approached the 19-year-old outside the vehicle and demanded the keys, said Overland Park police patrol Lt. Doug Dunn.

"The suspect fired the handgun into the ground, I think, to punctuate his demand," Dunn said.

Lawrence police said the suspect in the credit union robbery also apparently fired the gun as a warning.

Lawrence police stopped at least one BMW shortly after the robbery here, but no one matching the description of the suspect was found.

Four FBI agents and several Lawrence police detectives were collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses Tuesday night at the credit union.

A manager of the credit union, contacted shortly after the robbery, confirmed that the business had been robbed but declined to add any details.

The suspect in both robberies was described as a muscular white man about 6 feet tall, in his 20s, wearing a red sweatshirt and sunglasses.

The license plate of the BMW stolen in Overland Park is Kansas MVK-663.

Anyone with information about the Lawrence incident should call Crime Stoppers at 843-TIPS (8477).

Tuesday's incident in Lawrence marked the first time a financial institution had been robbed here since the Aug. 18 robbery of Central National Bank, 711 Wakarusa.

FBI spokesman Lanza said a credit union is federally insured and the robbery of one is a federal crime. Carjacking also is a federal crime.

-- Michael Dekker's phone message number is 832-7187. His e-mail address is mdekker@ljworld.com.

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