Police believe Wellston, Luther bank robberies may be connected

By John Counts

Special to the Star

WELLSTON – A masked gunman who robbed the Lake-Osceola State Bank in Wellston may be the same man who robbed the bank’s Luther branch on June 3.

A white male entered the Wellston bank located on M-55 just before 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to Michigan State Police. It’s not known how much money was stolen from the bank.

“He had a black semi-automatic handgun and demanded money,” said Lt. Brian Postma of the Michigan State Police.

There was one customer and at least one bank employee in the building at the time. No one was injured. The bank robber’s demeanor was described by Postma as “calm and collected.”

Police said he was in disguise, wearing a mask, aviator-style sunglasses and a brown wig. The suspect is described as being about 6 feet-tall, between 180 and 200 pounds. He was wearing a blue shirt and a gray baseball cap with a block letter M, similar to the University of Michigan logo.

The suspect in the Luther bank robbery was said to be a white male, 5-feet-9-inches tall and weighing 200 pounds. During that robbery, the suspect wore dark shoes, blues jeans, a light brown hat, a brown hooded sweatshirt or jacket with black lining and latex gloves.

The suspect in Wednesday’s robbery made his getaway in a 1992 light blue Buick Century four-door that was reported stolen out of the Clare area on Tuesday. That vehicle was abandoned a few miles away from the bank in the national forest, on a snowmobile trail near Steinberg Road, where it was quickly identified by a DNR Conservation Officer. The suspect is believed to have fled in another vehicle, possibly with an accomplice.

It’s unclear if the man, who police believe had an accomplice, is targeting Lake-Osceola State Bank branches or rural banks in general.

“The two are in close proximity,” Postma said. “That’s pretty unusual in a northern Michigan community.”

Postma said any tips from the public on identifying the masked bank bandit would be very helpful. He encourages anyone with information that might be helpful to the investigation to call the Manistee State Police Post at (231) 723-3535.

“It will depend on people’s help to capture him,” Postma said. “We’d like to capture him before somebody gets hurt.”