Bank robber suspect still at large

BRIDGEPORT – It’s been nearly a month since a man boldly robbed a village bank in broad daylight and, according to Police Chief Andy Klotz, the investigation is ongoing.

“There’s really nothing new,” Klotz said Wednesday morning, “but we are still working on a couple of things.”

The suspect walked into the Citizens Bank, 325 Howard St., shortly after 9:30 a.m. on April 3. He was reportedly carrying some type of long gun and demanded everyone to the floor. He told a teller to put an undetermined amount of money into a bag he was carrying, according to village police chief Andy Klotz.

Surveillance video of the man was been released by police, but although investigators received a couple of tips, no one has yet come forward with any information to help authorities solve the crime.

The video, released two days after the robbery, shows a white male between 5-11 and 6-foot tall. He was wearing a black ski mask over a portion of his face, and also had a dark hooded sweatshirt pulled over his head. He was also wearing a black leather jacket, blue jeans, black shoes and possibly latex gloves.

It was reported that the suspect ran east on Bennett Street headed towards the Ohio River.

Law enforcement officials from all over Belmont County converged on the bank, located at the corner of Howard and DeKalb streets in the Kirkwood neighborhood. They were on the scene within minutes of the alarm being set off by a bank employee.

Dozens of uniformed officers from Bellaire, Bridgeport, Martins Ferry, Powhatan Point and Shadyside joined troopers from the Ohio Highway Patrol and deputies from the Belmont County Sheriff’s Office in scouring the adjacent neighborhood, along with the Bridgeport Manor housing complex, the area around Gould Park, an area near the basketball courts on South Lincoln Avenue adjacent to the railroad tracks, as well as the shoreline of the back channel of the river.

Some officers were seen driving through the neighborhood, while others were seen walking down streets and through alleys and yards searching for any type of evidence they could find.

At one point, officers surrounded a house on Howard Street, some three blocks west of the bank. However, no one was apprehended. At another point, several cruisers rushed to a white van spotted on Jacquette Street, but that wasn’t the vehicle they were seeking, either.

The bank was locked down immediately after the suspect exited the building. Yellow police tape was placed around the sidewalk and drive-thru area. The bank was closed for the remainder of the day as police and a special agent from the Bureau of Criminal Identification spent much of the day inside going over the crime scene.

This is the third time that the bank has been the target of robbers. The suspect in the first robbery, which happened in February of 2011, is still at large, while the suspect in the second holdup was arrested shortly after the robbery at a gas station in Bellaire.

One police officer said the bank’s proximity is a likely reason it has been targeted so often.

“It’s so close to Interstate 70, Ohio 7 south, Kirkwood Heights Road and the bridge leading to Wheeling Island,” he said.

Just minutes prior to the robbery, a bomb threat was reported on the Bridgeport Schools campus.

That was the second time in three weeks that the Bridgeport Schools had received a bomb threat.

Authorities have not yet determined if the latest bomb threat and the bank robbery were related. No one was injured in either instance.

The bank has since resumed normal business hours.

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