Police searching for bank robbery suspect

RALEIGH Officials say the bank robber fired a shot at a female employee who didn't move fast enough.

Detectives believe the suspect is likely to be the same man responsible for five previous robberies.

Raleigh police say this is an unusually violent robber, one they fear that could be one step away from killing someone.

"In a robbery you need to have an element of fear," Raleigh Police Detective Ben Huger said. "Somebody needs to be placed in fear of their life in order to meet the crime of robbery. This guy has gone way past that. He is now terrorizing people."

Huger says the people the suspect is terrorizing are all women. Some have been customers, but most have been bank workers.

"It's pretty cowardice to assault anyone, but it's more cowardice to assault a woman in particular," bank customer Elana Turner said.

Officials say some of the women have been kicked while on the ground and roughed up. They say one woman even had her shirt torn, while another was pistol whipped and sent to the hospital.

"It is quite scary especially for women who get out and I am by myself quite a bit," bank customer Shelley Gross said.

Authorities say the gunman has worn a mask in the robberies, but has got some distinctive features. He is described as a light skinned African American man with slender to medium build, around 5 feet 8 to 11 inches tall, has misshapen teeth, a gravelly voice and wears two distinctive sweatshirts. They believe he's in his late 20s to early 40s.

"We got to get this guy off the streets," Huger said.

In the most recent robbery before Wednesday's, a man with a handgun entered the same Hillsborough Street Wachovia bank and robbed it on March 31 around 9:30 a.m.

Police say on Feb. 26, a masked suspect robbed the Suntrust bank on Six Forks Road. Then on Jan. 21 and Dec. 29, a suspect matching the same description robbed the Wachovia Bank on Falls of the Neuse Road. They believe the same man also robbed the Suntrust Bank on Kildaire Farm Road in November.

A reward of up to $20,000 remains in effect for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects responsible for the crimes.

Detective Huger says anyone who knows someone who fits even some of the robber's characteristics is asked to call Raleigh police.

Anyone with information that might assist the investigation of these cases is asked to call the Raleigh Police Department's Detective Division at (919) 996-3555 or Raleigh CrimeStoppers at (919) 834-HELP.

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