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Marshals Find Alleged Triple-Bank Robber Hiding In Closet
by Paul Bass | Oct 18, 2012 8:57 pm
Lenwood Saunders hadn’t yet run out of money or heroin. But he ran out of time.
That’s what the cops said after Saunders was arrested Wednesday and charged with three downtown bank robberies.
Police Thursday announced the arrest of the alleged robber (whose name in one court file appears as “Linwood” rather than “Lenwood”). They charged him with robbing three banks within a block of the Green: First Niagara this Tuesday downtown; Chase bank on Church Street on Sept. 18; and TD Bank at 994 Chapel.
Saunders confessed to the robberies, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Superior Court. The 43-year-old has a history of robbery convictions.
Assistant Police Chief Archie Generoso (pictured) said at a press conference Thursday that Saunders “seems to have hit these banks to feed his drug problem.”
In the TD Bank incident, a teller told police that the robber passed her a note reading, “I have a gun give me all the money no dye pack.” Then he fled.
Detectives, led by Det. Manuella Vensel, identified Saunders as the main suspect after the first two robberies. Through an informant, they obtained photos of him and learned he’d been doing “a lot of drugs” and had fled to Newark, N.J., according to the affidavit.
The police couldn’t find him in New Jersey, according to Generoso.
Fast forward to Tuesday afternoon shortly before 4 p.m., when First Niagara was hit. The robber approached a teller and “threw a note” at her, according to a case incident report. The note, written on a checking account deposit slip, read: “I have a gun put all the money in a bag don’t try anything one false move you Die don’t try me.”
“As [the teller] pressed the police alarm button, the male motioned to his waistband as if he had a weapon and said, ‘Stop playing, I’m going to kill you,’” according to the report.
He fled through the bank’s front lobby with about $1,450 cash and crossed the Green.
Police scoured the area for him but didn’t find him. They did conclude pretty soon that L was back in town, according to Generoso.
The U.S. Marshals Violent Fugitive Task Force joined the search, working alongside city detectives. The marshals traced Saunders to a second-floor apartment on Orchard Street at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Saunders hid in a closet, according to U.S. Marshal Joseph Faughnan (pictured at Thursday’s press conference at police headquarters).
Saunders allegedly had $280 in cash, several driver’s licenses (in other people’s names), and two glassine heroin pockets on him at the time of his arrest.
According to the case incident report, Saunders confessed after being read his Miranda rights in an interview on the third-floor detective bureau Wednesday. He offered a taped statement and signed one of the notes he handed a teller to acknowledge that he had written it.
Saunders was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Superior Court on Elm Street. The appearance was rescheduled to Friday morning. Meanwhile, city detectives are working with Newark cops who suspect Saunders of robbing a TD Bank in their city on Sept. 29.
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