Montana Bank Falls Victim to Robbery using 'Bomb' Scenario

MISSOULA -- A man armed with a handgun and a package he said was a bomb robbed the downtown Mountain West Bank of an undisclosed amount of cash Tuesday and escaped on foot.

There was no bomb, officials determined hours after the 11:20 a.m. robbery.

Police Sgt. Scott Hoffman said the middle-aged man dressed in dark clothing entered the bank and handed the clerk a note demanding all of her money. He placed a package half the size of a shoebox on the counter and pushed back his coat to reveal a pistol tucked into the waist of his pants, Hoffman said.

The teller cooperated, giving the man all the money in her till. He then left the bank on foot and got away. No arrests had been made by late Tuesday.

There were no customers in the bank at the time, Police Sgt. Travis Welsh said.

The suspect was described as a white male, about 35 to 45 years old, 5-foot-8 to 5-foot-10 and weighing around 180 pounds. He was wearing a black coat cinched tight at the waist, a red shirt, dark pants, dark shoes and a dark-colored baseball cap with no logos. He had collar-length straight dark brown hair and a Fu Manchu-style mustache, police said.

The Missoula City-County Bomb Squad responded and deployed a radio-controlled robot designed to detonate bombs. A busy, nearby street was closed for two hours.

A Missoula County sheriff's deputy in a bomb suit opened the bank door for the robot, which picked up the package from the counter, placed it on the floor, and obliterated it with a high-pressure blast of water. There was no explosive device inside.

The FBI was assisting police in the investigation, officials said.

The amount of cash taken was not released.