February 28

Thomaston man charged in Waterville bank robbery

Suspect David Alvarez had been in a minor traffic accident about an hour before the robbery, and a police officer said he recognized him in surveillance footage.

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE — A Thomaston man was arrested Friday afternoon in connection with the morning robbery of Bangor Savings Bank on upper Main Street after a police officer recognized him from a traffic accident earlier, police said.

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On scene: A man robbed Bangor Savings Bank on upper Main Street in Waterville early Friday morning.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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David Alvarez, 28, formerly of Waterville, was identified as a suspect by an officer who’d been at a traffic accident Alvarez had been involved in about an hour before the robbery. The officer recognized him from a bank surveillance camera photo, Deputy police Chief Charles Rumsey said.

Alvarez, of 6 Wadsworth St., Thomaston, has previously spent time in jail for stealing a woman’s car in Sidney three years ago, hitting her with the car as he fled.

The Waterville bank was robbed shortly after 9 a.m. Friday by a man who handed a teller a note demanding money, was given an undisclosed amount of cash and ran from the bank across nearby Elm Plaza. He was last seen near Maurice’s clothing store, near the south corner of the plaza.

“We ultimately were able to determine the suspect got into his vehicle somewhere in the area of McDonald’s on Main Street,” Rumsey said.

The robbery prompted a massive police search around Elm Plaza, a busy shopping area in the city’s north end. The bank is at the corner of Main Street and Waterville Commons Drive, several hundred feet from exit 130 of Interstate 95.

At 12:20 p.m., police stopped a vehicle on Elm Street and found Alvarez, a passenger, with a large amount of cash, Rumsey said. He was arrested and charged with robbery, a class B felony, class E theft and a probation hold in connection with an earlier charge of theft of a firearm, Rumsey said.

He was taken to a hospital for clearance of an unspecified medical condition and was expected to be taken to the Kennebec County jail in Augusta, Rumsey said. His bail was set at $10,500 cash.

After the robbery, Maine State Police Trooper Rick Moody with a dog, Foster, and other officers, descended a steep snowy embankment behind the bank, walked across Elm Plaza to Champions Fitness Center and then climbed a walking path to McDonald’s restaurant off upper Main Street, where they searched further.

Shortly after Friday’s robbery, Ray LaFrance, 50, of Waterville, was huddled in the cold outside the Big Apple store next to the bank, drinking a cup of coffee.

LaFrance, who works at the nearby Hannaford supermarket, was waiting for a ride when he saw olice converge on the area.

“I was just standing here and all of sudden three cop cars came down Main Street,” LaFrance said. “One cop stopped in the median and asked a guy for ID. Another cop came and asked me how long I’ve been standing here. I said 15 minutes and he asked if I’d seen anything. I didn’t see no activity at the bank.”

Temperatures Friday morning were in the teens and a bitter wind whipped through Elm Plaza as police blocked the back entrance to the bank off Waterville Commons Drive.

Other officers stationed themselves and their cruisers around the area, including outside Champions Fitness Center at the south end of Elm Plaza, as well as at McDonald’s restaurant. Some officers carried rifles as they searched.

In addition to Waterville police, Maine State Police, Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office deputies and officials from the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency were at the scene. Oakland, Winslow and Fairfield police also joined the search.

“These are serious crimes,” Rumsey said, “and so we feel very much for the tellers and for the customers who were in the bank at that time because it’s very traumatic for them.”


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Additional Photos

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search: Officers with a police dog, Foster, in the McDonald’s parking lot off upper Main Street Friday morning during the search for the robber of the nearby Bangor Savings Bank.

Staff photo by Amy Calder

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search: Officers with a police dog search for the man who robbed Bangor Savings Bank in Waterville Friday morning. David Alvarez of Thomaston was arrested later in the day.

Staff photo by Amy Calder

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Robbery: Bank surveillance photo shows the man who robbed Bangor Savings Bank in Waterville on Friday.

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