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Armed robbers hit two county banks in one day

February 07, 1997

By RICHARD BELISLE

Staff Writer

Armed robbers hit two Washington County branches of Hagerstown Trust Co. on Friday, holding up a bank in Boonsboro in the afternoon and a Prospect Avenue branch in the early evening.

Police don't believe the robberies are related.

"I've been here for 15 years and I've never heard of two banks being robbed in the same day in Washington County," said Barry O'Neill, a Western Maryland FBI agent. "It's pretty unusual."

Friday's robberies bring to 15 the number of bank robberies in the Tri-State area since September.

Both of the banks robbed on Friday had been held up in the past five months - the Boonsboro branch on Sept. 13 and the Prospect Avenue bank on Dec. 12.

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O'Neill said there have been 14 bank robberies in the five Western Maryland counties in the last two months.

"I can't explain why," O'Neill said of the rash of bank robberies in the region. "It must be a blip on the radar screen. There's nothing to explain it."

There were no injuries in either of Friday's incidents, police said.

The suspects, a white man in the Boonsboro robbery and two black men in the Hagerstown heist, were still at large late Friday, police said.

In both cases, an undisclosed amount of cash was taken, police said.

In the Boonsboro robbery, the suspect entered the bank at 207 N. Main St. at 12:25 p.m. Maryland State Police described him as being slim and dressed all in black - hat, hooded sweatshirt, pants and shoes. Police said he also wore black sunglasses.

He carried a red six-pack cooler, police said. The robber waved a handgun and demanded money which he stuffed into the cooler, police said.

He left the bank on foot, walked north on Ford Avenue and got into a gray or silver, late 1980s model Toyota car, police said.

The second robbery took place at 6:18 p.m. at the bank's branch at 201 Prospect Ave., according to Hagerstown City Police.

Police said two black men entered the bank armed with handguns. One of the suspects jumped over the counter and took money from the teller's drawers while his partner stood watch over bank employees and customers.

Both were described as being thin. One wore a blue hooded jacket; the other a black hooded sweatshirt, police said. They fled on foot on Forest Drive toward Jamison Park.

Police did not say how many people were in the banks during the robberies.

Another Hagerstown Trust Co. branch was robbed in November. A suspect has been arrested in the Nov. 13 holdup of the branch at 19922 Jefferson Blvd.

An F&M Bank branch in Mont Alto, Pa., was robbed three times between November and January. One suspect has been arrested in all three robberies. Police also arrested an accomplice who took part in two of the Mont Alto jobs.

The same teller was victimized in all three F&M robberies, police said.

RELATED GRAPHIC: Police sketch of suspect in Boonsboro holdup, available as a 370 x 518 JPEG (54K) or a 145 x 203 GIF (30K).

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