Suspect killed in Monroe robbery

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Tere Dunlap/The Monroe Times
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
— An emergency call to police about a man with a gun in a Monroe bank began as a robbery at a downtown Mexican grocery Tuesday morning.

It ended with the death of one suspect, the arrest of two others and a search for a possible fourth.

The ordeal began when officers were dispatched about 10:30 a.m. to First National Bank and Trust, 1625 10th St., where employees reported a man with a gun in the bank, Monroe Police Chief Fred Kelley said.

Bank workers reportedly were alerted to the gunman by the 32-year-old owner of a downtown Mexican grocery store in the 1000 block of 16th Avenue, which was being robbed by a group of men. The three men got an undetermined amount of cash from the store but wanted more, so they forced the owner to go with two of them to cash a check at the bank, while the third man stayed at the store with a second victim, a 28-year-old friend of the store owner, authorities said.

When officers arrived at the bank, one of the suspects fled the scene in a minivan, leading Green County deputies on a chase that reached speeds of more than 100 mph.

The van headed east on Highway 11/81. While swerving to avoid stop sticks, the driver lost control, and the minivan overturned several times, ejecting the driver. The crash was near Bagley Road east of Juda.

The driver, an adult male who was alone in the vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene. Sheriff Jeff Skatrud said the minivan had Wisconsin license plates but was not registered in Green County.

At the bank, Monroe police and Green County sheriff's officers maintained a perimeter until about 12:15 p.m. At that time, they were alerted to the situation at the store, where there were reports of an injured man being left there with a possible fourth suspect.

Police are still investigating, but they reported having two suspects in custody, while a fourth man might still be at large. They also were questioning witnesses.

Kelley added that one of the store workers suffered a minor gash to the head.

Green County Clerk Mike Doyle was on the Square at the time of the incident. He said he was about to go into the bank and was told not go in. As he was crossing the street to return to the Green County Courthouse, he said, he was nearly run over by a light blue minivan when it pulled out of the parking space.

"It was only about 10 feet from me," Doyle said. "Police officers had their guns pointed at the driver, and then he suddenly put the vehicle in reverse."

Bank employees were initially alerted by the victim, and bank employees spotted the man in the minivan parked outside, Kelley said.

"The bank employees did a terrific job," Kelley said.

The bank employees not only contacted police and stayed on the line to give a description of the robbers, they also were able to slip people out of the bank, except for two or three tellers, while the suspects waited for the check to be cashed, Kelley said. Those who left the bank were taken to a nearby business.

"If there's any heroes of the day, it was the bank personnel," Kelley said. "They were on this."

The Wisconsin State Patrol is investigating the crash, and the sheriff's office has asked an outside agency to evaluate its pursuit of the minivan.

Highway 11/81 was closed between County OK and County KS east of Juda, but it reopened by 4 p.m.

The store on the Square where the incident began has no exterior sign, but a paper sign on the front door said the business was open after the incident.

Last updated: 5:02 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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