Lake Ann bank robbed at gunpoint

Troy Lamerson, interim undersheriff for the Benzie County Sheriff's Office, shows a photo of the hand-written sign an armed robber gave employees of the Honor Bank in Lake Ann to place on the drive through window on Wednesday.  (Colin Merry/Pioneer News Network photo)

Troy Lamerson, interim undersheriff for the Benzie County Sheriff’s Office, shows a photo of the hand-written sign an armed robber gave employees of the Honor Bank in Lake Ann to place on the drive through window on Wednesday. (Colin Merry/Pioneer News Network photo)

LAKE ANN — A robber made off with an undisclosed amount of money from the Honor Bank location in Lake Ann on Wednesday after he forced bank employees to cooperate with his demands, or be shot.

The Benzie County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation are now seeking the suspect, who was caught on camera quickly, and professionally, perpetrating the heist.

An armed robbery was caught on camera at the Honor Bank location in Lake Ann. An armed, white male entered the bank and forced bank employees to open up a safe.  (Courtesy photo)

An armed robbery was caught on camera at the Honor Bank location in Lake Ann. An armed, white male entered the bank and forced bank employees to open up a safe. (Courtesy photo)

The suspect is described as a white male, between 5-foot, 6-inches and 5-foot, 8-inches, wearing a tan parka with a fur trimmed hood, a black ski mask, desert camouflage pants, blue gloves and black tennis shoes. The left shoe may have a white mark near the toe.

He entered the bank between 3:50 and 3:55 p.m., pointed a silver revolver at the two bank tellers on duty, and told them they would be killed if they tried to sound any alarms. He then quickly cased the building, to make sure nobody else was inside, before having a bank employee open a safe.

He also told tellers to shut the shades at the drive-through window, and gave them a sign to place on it, which stated the window was closed due to electrical problems.

The robbery took around two minutes. He then left with an undisclosed amount of money. Bank employees called 911 and sounded silent alarms.

A K-9 dog traced the robber’s scent to a nearby parking lot, where he presumably got into a vehicle and drove away.

“This guy knew what he was doing,” said Benzie County Sheriff Ted Schendel. “He had this all planned out.”

Evidence of this can be found in three false emergency calls made to area law enforcement agencies, just minutes before the robber struck. Law

(Courtesy photo)

(Courtesy photo)

enforcement officials believe the calls were made by the robber to draw officers away from Lake Ann.

“Three calls came in on administrative lines,” said Troy Lamerson, interim undersheriff with the Benzie County Sheriff’s Office. “One call was to Benzie, which stated there was an armed robbery at a Thompsonville gas station. Another came in at the Leelanau Sheriff’s Office, claiming a robbery at a Northport gas station, and a third came in to the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office, claiming there was a robbery at Chum’s Corners. Whoever made the calls is trying to mask their voice.”

The calls were all made two minutes apart from each other, on different cellular phones. The exact location of the call could not be traced, because they came in through administrative lines, not 911, which generates a location.

However, Lamerson said that analysis of the call to Traverse City law enforcement officials indicate the cell phone was in Benzie County when it called, and near Lake Ann. Officials are still trying to pinpoint the exact location.

The sign the robber gave to the bank tellers, which was hand-written, was sent to the Michigan State Police for testing.

Lamerson said the suspect should still be considered armed and dangerous. He also said he would be surprised if the suspect was not familiar with the area.

According to Schendel, interviews are being conducted, and multiple tips have come in concerning the robbery.

“This is going to be a case that the community is going to solve,” he said. “It is going to require the community working with law enforcement.”

The Honor Bank in Lake Ann was previously robbed about 20 years ago. The suspect was never caught, but law enforcement officials do not believe the incidents are connected.

Anybody with any information regarding the robbery is asked to contact the Benzie County Sheriff’s Office at (231) 882-4484.

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