A man allegedly threatened PNC Bank in Plainwell with a bomb, fled north of town and was arrested overnight. (Photo by Nicklas Grifhorst)

Plainwell bank robbery suspect arrested wandering along US-131

By: 
Virginia Ransbottom, Staff Writer

A man who police allege claimed to have a bomb when robbing the PNC Bank in downtown Plainwell Thursday, June 14, has been arrested.

The Plainwell Department of Public Safety said a Michigan State Police Trooper arrested the man about 1 a.m. Friday, June 15, while he was walking along US-131 south of M-222.

The man was identified as a 51-year-old from Florida and taken to the Allegan County Jail. He will face charges in federal court in Grand Rapids.

People were evacuated from businesses and road blocks were set up around town after the robbery, which happened about 10:50 a.m.

Plainwell public safety director Bill Bomar said, “The suspect has relatives who live in the area,” he said. “They said... they thought he was homeless and that he was also suicidal.

“He was not armed at the bank other than what we suspected in the backpack.”

The Michigan State Police Bomb Squad found only clothing in a backpack the man left at the scene.

Traffic through Plainwell became such a snarled mess around lunchtime, local business owner Paul Warnement pulled on a bright orange jumpsuit and started directing traffic at Bridge and Park streets, one of the areas where traffic was being rerouted from downtown. Similar scenarios played out around the other three rerouted intersections to town.

PNC Bank fronts Main Street and backs up to a parking lot at M-89, across the road from Hicks Park.

A Michigan State Police bomb technician could be seen suiting up in that parking lot and entering the building. A containment transport vehicle and robot were staged in the parking lot.

After it was determined there was no threat of explosives, people were allowed to return to businesses and most streets were opened about 1:30 p.m.

Among the evacuees was Sharon Vangemert who owns the Old Plank Road Restaurant. She said witnesses were taken to the Plainwell Public Safety office where evidence was being centralized.

Canine units were called in for a ground search of Plainwell.

Thirty-year Plainwell resident William Welch said he lives on Allegan Street and it was the first time he could get out of his driveway without waiting for traffic. He was videotaping the bomb squad as they entered PNC.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in Plainwell,” he said. “There’s been a few gas station robberies, I don’t know about bank robberies, but I’ve never seen the bomb squad.”

Editor Ryan Lewis and Staff Writer Dan Pepper contributed to this report.

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