Bel Air area bank robbed Monday, Patterson Mill schools go on lockdown

Patterson Mill Middle and High schools south of Bel Air were briefly put on lockdown Monday while Harford County sheriff's deputies searched the area for a bank robber whose description is similar to one in an early November bank robbery.

The robber remained at large as of Tuesday afternoon, the Harford County Sheriff's Office said. Monday's holdup was the second armed bank robbery in Harford since Thursday. In addition, a post office was robbed at gunpoint last Wednesday.

Around 11:08 a.m. Monday, a white man in his 40s entered the Sovereign Bank in the 1800 block of Emmorton Road in the Emmorton – Bel Air South community. He displayed a firearm and directed a bank employee to give him the cash from the teller station, according to Eddie Hopkins, spokesman for the Sheriff's Office.

The robber was wearing a hard hat, a dust or surgical mask, blue jeans, work boots and a plaid flannel shirt. He ran off to the rear of the bank.

In an abundance of caution, Hopkins said, deputies requested Patterson Mill High be locked down while they searched the area. The school was only on lockdown for a short period of time. No injuries were reported.

A lockdown means that students are prohibited from traveling the hallways, students and staff are prohibited from traveling outside the building and visitors are not permitted to enter the building, Teri Kranefeld, spokesperson for Harford County Public Schools, wrote in an e-mail. This procedure makes sure students remain in a safe, contained environment.

The lockdown lasted for about 20 minutes, Kranefeld wrote.

Anyone with information regarding the crime is asked to call Det. Chris Sergent with the Sheriff's Office at 410-836-5428.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect/crime and wishing to remain anonymous may report their information through the following: website or e-mail to text a message beginning with "MCS" then the information to "CRIMES" (274637); or call Harford Crime Solvers, 888-540-8477.

No arrests yet

Detectives are not certain if Monday's robbery is connected to several others that have occurred recently in Harford County, Hopkins said. In addition to last week's robberies of another bank and a post office, a third Harford bank was held up in early November.

Last Thursday's robbery occurred at the Street branch of NBRS Bank at the intersection of Routes 1 and 136.

A man entered the bank, at 3535 Conowingo Road (Route 1), at about 4:08 p.m., displayed a handgun and demanded money, according to the Sheriff's Office. The suspect was wearing all black and fled on a motorcycle south on Route 136 toward Churchville.

No one has been arrested in connection with that robbery.

Last Wednesday's robbery at the small Benson Post Office on Connolly Road, between Bel Air and Fallston, also involved a single gunman, who reached over the counter into a cash register till and took an undisclosed amount of cash, according to the Sheriff's Office.

The robber ran off in the direction of Harford Road; however, an extensive search on the ground and with the aid of a State Police helicopter failed to find him. The U.S. Postal Service is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the robbery.

Some similarities

A BB&T Bank branch in Fallston was held up Nov. 5 by a man who was similarly dressed as the robber in Monday's holdup.

The bank in the 1900 block of Belair Road was robbed by a man who was carrying a shotgun and wore construction worker clothes. He went into the branch, displayed a gun, demanded cash, then fled, according to Maryland State Police who are in charge of that investigation.

The robber was described as a white man, 5 feet, 10 inches to 6 feet tall with a stocky build. At the time of the robbery, he was wearing a white hard hat, a yellow and orange safety vest, gray sweat shirt and faded blue jeans, State Police said. He entered the branch carrying a clipboard, a water main key and a black duffel bag, out of which he pulled a black shotgun, which State Police later described as a "Bull Pup style shotgun."

The robber demanded cash then told the tellers and customers to get on the floor. He stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the teller's drawers and coin vault and then fled the bank on foot and was last seen traveling north on Belair Road toward Fallston Commons Drive and the neighborhood of the same name behind Walmart.

Troopers used a police dog and a helicopter to search the area, but could not find the robber.

This is an updated version of this story. A previous version gave the incorrect reward offered in connection with the Benson Post Office robbery. The reward leading to an arrest and conviction is $25,000.

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