Four arrested after bank robbery, chase
At 12:04 p.m., five men wearing Halloween masks and black, hooded sweatshirts brandished guns as they entered the bank at 365 Century Lane. They escaped in a black Lexus.
By 1 p.m., four robbery suspects, including a woman who apparently drove a getaway car, were in custody.
No one was reported injured.
Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden was not sure Friday night if the robbers got away with any money.
Spoden was in the field coordinating the manhunt and so did not have all the details of the day’s many, fast-moving events.
The female getaway driver either drove the Lexus or met the men on Schaffner Road, where the robbers split up.
Two of the robbers fled with the female getaway driver in a second car, a brown Ford Crown Victoria, Spoden said.
Starting at Highway 213 and County H, those suspects led Rock County deputies on a 100-mph, five- or 10-minute chase into Illinois, where they were apprehended without incident in Winnebago County, Ill., at 12:37 p.m.
Spoden says it’s possible the suspects could have found a ride out of the search perimeter in southwest Rock County. Although it’s possible the two suspects have left the area, Spoden is warning residents to stay alert. The search continued Friday night as extra second-shift and extra third-shift sheriff’s deputies helped try to locate the two robbery suspects.
Because Spoden did not have complete information, some of the details in this story came from radio traffic heard on a police scanner and various Web postings from other news organizations.
Winnebago County officers took the lead in the chase and arrested the three suspects—and a woman who apparently came to meet them—on Meridian Road between Highway 70 and Auburn Street, northwest of Rockford.
The other three suspects fled on foot, running through yards and hiding in fields near Newark Elementary School. At one point, they got lost in a cornfield and tried to contact their cohorts in the Crown Victoria by cell phone.
The school was locked about 12:30 p.m., and the formal lockdown ended about 2:15 p.m. But students were not allowed to leave the school until after 4 p.m. because the school was in the middle of the “hot zone,” an area about six miles in diameter that up to 75 officers were searching.
One suspect was captured just before 1 p.m. in a field on Merlet Road. He might have been hiding for a while in a car parked in a driveway across from the field.
The hunt for the other two robbers involved four K-9 units, all-terrain vehicles, a police helicopter from Illinois with thermal-imaging capability and a Wisconsin State Patrol airplane.
Scouring the area were some 75 officers from the Rock County Sheriff’s Department, Wisconsin State Patrol, Illinois State Police and departments in Janesville, Beloit, Turtle Township, Green County and Winnebago County, Ill.
Seven Janesville officers, including the department’s K-9 team, were helping look for the two remaining suspects into Friday night.
The FBI is helping investigate the actual robbery.
The FBI is processing one suspect vehicle in Winnebago County and the Sheriff's Department is processing another vehicle in Rock County. Law enforcement officials are also going through the Footville bank itself to find clues about the suspects.
Besides looking for the robbers, officers escorted wary residents to their homes and searched homes and outbuildings, not only for the suspects but also to put residents at ease, Spoden said.
Students at Newark Elementary and those at Parkview High School and Orfordville Elementary who lived in the hot zone either were picked up by their parents or rode buses home under the protection of deputies.
Deputies escorted kids up their rural driveways to their homes, Spoden said.
He said a press release would be forthcoming today, reporting the suspects’ names and other details of the robbery, chase and manhunt.
Click on the map to view dispatch reports on the incident.
Last updated: 11:13 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012