ST. ALBANS CITY: Citizens tackle bank robber

Third robbery in 10 days thwarted

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‘They ended up wrestling him to the ground …’

- Lt. Ron Hoague, SAPD

ST. ALBANS CITY — Police arrested a man who attempted to rob the People’s United Bank on North Main Street Thursday afternoon.

The alleged robber, Travis Merritt, 33, of 56 High St. in St. Albans, was stopped by the bank manager and a security guard. The guard was hired following a robbery Monday at the same location.

Merritt jumped the counter, according to Lt. Ron Hoague of St. Albans Police Department, with the intent of taking money from the teller’s drawer. However, the branch manager and security guard intervened.

Merritt then attempted to flee, said Hoague, but was stopped by the two men. He continued to try to escape, making it outside where a customer assisted in restraining him.

“They ended up wrestling him to the ground and were holding him down when we got there,” said Hoague.

Police were alerted as soon as the robbery began and had Merritt in custody within three minutes. Although that may seem like a short time, it’s a longer when trying to hold someone down, said Hoague.

In two other recent bank robberies, a robber dressed in dark clothing, including a dark hoodie, jumped the counter to take money from tellers’ drawers. The first was at the TD Bank in Swanton on Monday, April 14, at around 10:15 in the morning. In that case, the robber had worn a dark-blue hoodie backwards with eyeholes cut in the hood.

On Monday, the People’s United branch on North Main Street was robbed by a man wearing a mask and a dark blue hoodie. In video from the bank, holes similar to those from the Swanton robbery can be seen in the hood. The physical description of the robber in both instances was similar, 5 feet, 6 inches with a slender build.

Although Merritt followed the same pattern of jumping the counter, Hoague declined to say Merritt is responsible for those robberies. The investigation is ongoing.

Merritt was also wearing a mask and dark clothing.

Police located a bicycle near the scene and other property that may belong to Merritt. If Merritt was responsible for the previous robberies the bicycle may be how he fled the scenes, according to Hoague.

Merritt’s home is just three blocks from the bank.

Yesterday, Merritt was examined at the scene by AmCare Ambulance personnel but refused treatment. People’s United Branch Manager Steve Lambert was treated for minor injuries, but declined transport to the hospital, according to police.

When contacted this morning, Lambert declined to comment on yesterday’s events, saying only, “Everyone is fine, and we’re happy that the perpetrator was apprehended.”

Speaking outside the bank yesterday, Chief Gary Taylor said that he wouldn’t advise people to get involved like those who restrained the robbery suspect did yesterday, but he acknowledged their role in capturing Merritt.

“I think people are tired of it,” Taylor said.