‘Black’ Arizona Bank Robber May Have Been White, Cops Say

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Arizona police photo

Arizona police

An Arizona bank robber who tried to shoot a teller through a door Tuesday may have worn makeup to disguise himself as a Black man.

Police say surveillance cameras at the bank, Pinnacle Financial Partners caught quality images of the robber, showing a face that appeared shiny and waxen, as if he were wearing heavy makeup during the heist. In addition, police say the man appeared to have Caucasian features, though they did not elaborate.

“He may have been trying to disguise his race,” said Don Aaron, spokesman for Metro police.

A female teller on a lunch break was injured during the robbery, though it’s unclear if it was caused by a shot fired by the robber or during her scramble to escape.

Shots fired during bank robberies are extremely rare. According to the FBI, of more than 5,000 robberies nationwide in 2011, only 70 involved the firing of a gun and only 88 involved someone getting injured. For that reason, Aaron said that Tuesday’s robber was particularly dangerous.

Aaron said the robber walked in the bank just after 2 p.m. armed with a handgun and “yelled for money and demanded that no one call for police.”

The 41-year-old teller, on her break in an adjoining room, went to investigate the ruckus, saw the robbery in progress and slammed the door.

The robber pursued her and fired a shot into the door. The bullet blew through that door and embedded itself in a wall, Aaron said.

The teller may have injured her hand in the scramble to flee.

Police said the man left the bank with a wad of cash in his left hand and his gun in his right. He ran behind the bank and fled in a white, mid-’90s Pontiac Grand Prix.

The man’s face initially confused police, who first put out alerts to look for a Black male with thin build wearing blue jeans, a black and blue plaid shirt over a long-sleeved gray shirt, a backpack, sunglasses and a “Gilligan-style” fisherman’s hat. But a closer look at the surveillance footage showed that the man’s face looked odd.

“There are certain features in the face that appear Caucasian,” Aaron said. “So the race of this figure is unknown.”