By Neil H. Dempsey
---- — DANVERS — Police say red dye packs may have exploded on a man as he made his getaway after robbing a bank at the Danvers Plaza Shopping Center yesterday afternoon.
The incident occurred about 2:45 p.m. at Citizen’s Bank inside the Super Stop & Shop at 301 Newbury St., according to radio reports and a press release from Chief Neil Ouellette.
The suspect — described as a thin white man in his 20s or 30s, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, with thin short hair and a goatee — told the bank clerk he had a handgun, though one wasn’t shown, police said. He was wearing a navy-blue Abercrombie & Fitch sweatshirt pulled tightly over his face, blue jeans and white shoes. None of his face was visible except his mouth area.
The suspect was last seen running in the vicinity of Staples. A customer saw the dye packs explode shortly after he exited the bank, according to radio reports.
It was unclear how much cash the suspect stole, if any.
A K9 unit searched the area, as did state troopers, to no avail.
Police were overheard on the radio saying first that a red SUV might have been involved in the robbery because it had taken off from the area around the time the suspect exited the store. Later, police issued a be-on-the-lookout alert for a gray 2005 Cadillac STS that was registered to a Salem man who had previously faced drugs and larceny charges. They did not identify the man as a suspect but speculated that his vehicle might have picked up the bank robber before leaving the area.
There were conflicting reports throughout the hours following the incident, with police at points saying the suspect was black and that he actually had shown a gun. Those were later determined to be untrue.
The suspect was not wearing gloves at the time of the robbery, and police planned to fingerprint an area of the counter he had touched.
Local police and the FBI are investigating. Police encourage anybody with information to contact detectives at 978-774-1213, extension 127.