Bank heist suspects found in Denver |

Bank heist suspects found in Denver

Veronica Whitney

VAIL – Two men were arrested at the Denver International Airport Tuesday in connection with Monday’s armed bank robbery in the Vail Village.The men, whose named hadn’t been released by police as of Tuesday evening, were arrested for robbing the WestStar Bank in Vail at gunpoint and getting away with an undisclosed amount of money. A Denver Police detective, who had a photo of the bank robbery suspects, spotted two men standing in line at a security checkpoint about 8:45 a.m., Tuesday. The men were detained without incident, Denver police said. More details may be released today at a news conference at 1 p.m. at Denver police headquarters.The two men were wearing ski masks and brandishing semi-automatic weapons when they robbed the bank at 302 Hanson Ranch Road in Vail Village at about 10 a.m., Monday, police said. Witnesses described the suspects as having accents, possibly Australian or European. Two employees were in the bank at the time of the robbery, but no injuries were reported.Along with three detectives and one sergeant from the Vail police department who are working on the case, Denver police, the FBI and the Rocky Mountain Safe Streets Task Force are helping the investigation, Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger said Tuesday.”It was an excellent example of cooperation between local and federal law enforcement,” Henninger said.The FBI wouldn’t release any information Tuesday about its role in the arrests. The FBI got involved because a bank robbery is a federal crime.”Many times we can’t release information right away because of the ongoing investigation,” said Dot Wehrly, spokeswoman for the FBI in Denver.According to police, the two men entered the bank shortly after it opened and confronted two female employees inside. No one else was in the bank at the time of the hold-up, police said. After separating the two bank employees, the robbers entered a vault stuffed money in a bag and fled. Witnesses told police one of the suspects was wearing a light-silver or gray jacket with a dark emblem on the left sleeve. The jacket had the words “Valley Electric” on it. The suspect also was wearing a badge or name badge with the name “Dave” on it. He also had a backpack. The second suspect was wearing a dark-blue or black hooded sweatshirt. Both men were possibly wearing black snowboard boots and dark pants. Another branch of the WestStar Bank in Vail was robbed twice in 2001. Since 1998, there have been 12 strong arm or weapons-related robberies in Vail, said Suzanne Silverthorn, spokeswoman for the town. Robbers in three armed hold-ups last year in Eagle County remain at large. Police have increased the reward to $10,000 for information on an Edwards bank robbery where a teller was injured in January 2004. And no arrests have been made in the either the armed robbery of Burger King in Avon or the hold-up of Apex Lodge in West Vail. ==========================================Robberies in the valleyThis list contains some of the robberies in Eagle County in the past years.• Dec. 4, 2001 – The WestStar Bank branch at 2111 North Frontage Road was robbed of approximately $20,000. Charges were later filed against 39-year-old William David Jennings, who was arrested in Park City, Utah, in April 2002 in conjunction with another robbery there.• Feb. 14, 2001 – A gunman who demanded money from WestStar Bank employees on Valentine’s Day ran out the front door and around the back of the shopping center with a bag of cash. A witness reported a suspicious vehicle parked in front of the bank that roared out of the Vail das Schone parking lot immediately following the robbery.• Jan. 6, 2004 – A bank employee was injured when a man and perhaps an unseen accomplice robbed the Colorado Business Bank in the Northstar Center near the Interstate 70 interchange in Edwards.• Jan. 18, 2004 – In the early morning hours an armed man dressed in black and also wearing a black ski mask made off with less than $300 when he held-up the Apex Lodge – formerly the West Vail Lodge – on the North Frontage Road in West Vail.The man entered the lodge’s deserted lobby shortly after 5 a.m. that day, threatened the front desk clerk and demanded money. Police reports said the masked man was carrying either a shotgun or a rifle.• Jan. 25, 2004 – No one was hurt in a hold-up at Burger King in Avon. The incident occurred as the store in the Nottingham Station strip mall was opening around 8 a.m. The robber, whose face was covered by a ski mask and whom an investigator described from witness accounts as “business-like,” got away with an undetermined amount of money. ======================Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or Vail, Colorado

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