FARMINGTON —The FBI and Farmington police are investigating a robbery that took place at Citizens Bank, 500 W. Broadway Ave., during lunchtime on Thursday.
A suspect had not been arrested, as of 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
A man walked into the bank at 12:39 p.m. and gave the teller a note demanding money, FBI spokesman Frank Fisher said in a news release.
A witness told the FBI the suspect is a 5-foot-5-inch Native American man. The man wore a white T-shirt, blue jeans, a dark cap and black and white tennis shoes, according to the news release.
The teller handed an undisclosed amount of money to the man.
Tony Rivera, of Kirtland, drove his truck into the bank's parking lot just as it was being robbed. He was meeting his girlfriend, who works at the bank, for lunch.
He said he saw a man in a dark beanie and white shirt running from the bank with a dark package, slightly larger than a wallet.
Two women, who looked like they worked at the bank, were chasing him, Rivera said.
“I noticed right away that something was wrong,” Rivera said.
He said he saw the suspect run west from the bank in the alley behind Mattress Outlet on Main Street and then into Pizza Hut's parking lot. Then he continued running into an alley south of Jolly Law Firm, Rivera said. The man was talking on a cell phone, Rivera said.
Fisher said the suspect was last seen on West Main Street.
Shortly after the robbery was reported, Farmington police officers surrounded the law firm and searched the area.
FBI agents started to arrive at the bank shortly after that. Police and agents interviewed people who work at the bank and nearby businesses.
A bank employee said an FBI agent told them not to speak to press.
Bank robbery is punishable by a 20-year prison sentence, and the penalty increases if a dangerous weapon is used in the commission of the crime, according to the FBI.
Anyone with information about this robbery is asked to call the Albuquerque FBI Office at 505-889-1300. The FBI may pay a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the suspect's arrest and conviction.
Thursday's robbery was the first bank robbery in Farmington since Dec. 16. That robbery happened at the Citizens Bank at 4220 Hudson St.
Mildred Herrera, a 57-year-old woman from Cuba, was charged with bank robbery in connection to that case. The FBI said she was wearing a Santa Claus hat and handed the teller a note demanding money and said she had a bomb, according to court documents.
FBI agents arrested Herrera about an hour and a half after the robbery at SunRay Park and Casino. She gambled about $200 before she was arrested, according to court documents.
Farmington police Lt. Taft Tracy said the FBI investigates bank robberies because banks are federally insured. The criminal cases are prosecuted in federal court.
“The nearest law enforcement agency is going to take on the role of looking for the suspect and trying to get as much information as we can,” he said. “And then we turn (the investigation) over to the FBI.”
There were 5,086 bank robberies in the United States in 2011, which is the most recent report available on the FBI's website. In 2,958 of those robberies, the suspect used a note to demand money, which was the most common way of robbing a bank that year, according to the FBI.
The last bank robbery in San Juan County in which the suspect is still wanted by the FBI was on Oct. 13, 2010. A masked man robbed Four Corners Community Bank with a handgun and escaped on foot, according to the FBI's website.