Suspect drives into building during alleged bank robbery

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 4, 2021

 A suspect is expected to be arraigned on bank robbery charges after driving his SUV through the entrance of Level One Bank on Telegraph Road.

A suspect is expected to be arraigned on bank robbery charges after driving his SUV through the entrance of Level One Bank on Telegraph Road.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki

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Police are grateful there are no injuries to report following a destructive attempt at a bank robbery on Telegraph Road Feb. 2.

According to Lt. Paul Schwab of the Bloomfield Township Police Department, a 911 call came in to the station at around 2:40 p.m. that day from someone who said they heard gunshots coming from outside Level One Bank, 6450 Telegraph Road.

In less than a minute, officers were on the scene and saw a silver SUV with heavy front-end damage attempting to leave. When the driver of the SUV saw police, he allegedly took off on foot, but he was quickly apprehended. 

“It was lucky. We had one patrol traveling southbound on (Telegraph), so he just swung right back around and pulled up to the bank as the suspect was trying to leave and blocked him in,” Schwab said. “Another patrol was eastbound on Maple just west of Telegraph, so he pulled into the gas station and blocked the suspect that way.”

The West Bloomfield police K-9 unit was used to search the area, and it was determined that there had been no gunshots involved in the incident.

Instead, police said, the suspect reportedly had used his vehicle to ram into the entrance of the bank, shattering the doorway and surrounding glass windows. The suspect then pulled away from the building, but he had a hard time due to the extensive damage to the vehicle.

“(The caller) must’ve just heard a loud crash when he hit the building, and they thought it was a gunshot,” Schwab said.

The driver, a 37-year-old Detroit man, was arrested for attempted bank robbery. Schwab said the man is expected to be arraigned before the week’s end.

“Apparently, what happened is he first pulled up to the drive-thru. He said he wanted to open an account, but they told him he couldn’t do that at the drive-thru,” Schwab said. “So he tried to go in, but the door was locked. That’s just protocol; they buzz you in. So he got back in his car and drove away. A few minutes later employees noticed, ‘Oh, look. That guy is back.’”

At first employees said the man appeared to be just pulling into a parking space, but then he drove through the entrance. 

When the subject was apprehended, police said, he was wearing a bulletproof vest, a gas mask and a bulletproof hat.

“I’m not a doctor or a psychologist, so I can’t speak to his state of mind. But I do believe he suffers from some kind of mental illness,” Schwab said.

Bloomfield Township Police Department Chief Phil Langmeyer praised the department’s quick response to the situation and said that between the responding officers, the detectives and West Bloomfield’s K-9 unit, it was a “great team effort.”

Township police are working in conjunction with the FBI to complete an investigation of the incident.

Call Staff Writer Tiffany Esshaki at (586) 498-1095.

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