Police search for link between bank robbery, school threat
BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. -
It's what everyone was talking about at Lil Lisai's Corner Deli in downtown Bellows Falls.
"The bank robbery," said Liz Smith of Lisai's.
Vermont State Police say two men walked into the People's United Bank Tuesday at around 2:30 p.m. and demanded money. They were not armed. The teller handed over the cash and the men fled on foot-- possibly in different directions. This prompted lockdowns at Bellows Falls Middle School and Central Elementary, which are just blocks away from the bank.
"There were actually kids on the playground," said Christopher Kibbe, the superintendent of the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union.
Just 15 minutes before the holdup at the bank, local and state police were called to Bellows Falls High School in Westminster, about two miles from the bank. Someone called 911 and said three people armed with guns were headed to the school. Students and staff were immediately evacuated.
"Everyone was looking where the cops were at and asking what was going on," said Ben Masure, an 11th-grader.
"The police checked out the scene, secured the driveway, talked to the principal and determined pretty quickly that there was not a threat at the school," Kibbe said.
Police are now trying to determine if the person who called in the false report is connected to the bank robbery.
"Seems like more than a coincidence giving the timing," Vt. State Police Lt. Rick Hopkins said.
Investigators maintained a heavy police presence in the Bellows Falls area all day.
"We did get a couple of tips yesterday during the day and we are interviewing a lot of witnesses. The bank is in a neighborhood, so there were potential for other people to see," Hopkins said.
Meanwhile, the Windham Northeast Supervisory Union is reviewing its policies. During the lockdown, buses continued transporting kids to the schools instead of keeping them in a safe zone.
"So we had students headed in this direction where the schools were in lockdown," Kibbe said.
Back at Lisai's, Liz Smith is cooking lunch. She used to work at a bank and has a message for the two suspects: "It's not worth robbing a bank."
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