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January 24, 2013

Bank robbery leads to school lockdown

By JOE MAHONEY
The Daily Star

---- — A lone thief, displaying what a teller believed was a firearm, pulled off a mid-day robbery Wednesday at a bank located in the busiest junction of Sharon Springs, prompting a brief lockdown at a local school, state police reported.

Wearing a hood on his head, the man entered the NBT Bank branch just after noon, walked up to a female teller and displayed a note demanding cash, police said.

The man then fled on foot with thousands of dollars of the bank’s cash, and despite a search by troopers in a helicopter and troopers with K-9 unit tracking dogs, the robber could not be located, police said.

The lockdown at the Sharon Springs Central School was lifted about 15 minutes after it was imposed. Officials said the move was a cautionary one.

Senior Investigator William John said it was not immediately clear whether the man was wielding a real gun or a fake one. Schoharie County Sheriff’s Department deputies also assisted in the response to the robbery.

Sharon Springs Village Mayor Omer Cousineau, a resident of Sharon Springs for 62 years, said there hadn’t been a bank robbery in the village in “years and years.”

“Things are rough nowadays, and some people resort to desperation,” said Cousineau, noting that minutes earlier “I had a helicopter going right over my house.”

Troopers said they were reviewing video surveillance footage of the robbery.

Residents said such crimes are a rarity in the sleepy village that is crisscrossed by U.S. Routes 20 and State Route 10.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking that somebody would come out to our little bucolic area and try to do something like that,” said Kevin Kutzscher, a former member of the Sharon Springs Parent Teacher Organization.

From the junction of routes 20 and 10, he noted, “It’s easy to go pretty much anywhere from there.”