Updated at 6:30 p.m.
An Imperial Beach bank branch was robbed Saturday by a man with a suspicious device he left behind, which prompted an evacuation and a visit from the bomb squad who determined it was not explosive, the FBI and sheriff’s officials said.
About 15 minutes before the bank robbery took place, a threat was made that there was a bomb at La Posta Market. The market was evacuated, but no harmful devices were found after deputies conducted a search, sheriff’s Lt. Karen Stubkjaer said.
At Chase Bank the suspect approached a teller at about 1:15 p.m. carrying a red Verizon shopping bag from which he pulled a small gray box with wires attached then demanded cash, FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth said. He indicated the item contained explosives, Foxworth said.
With cash in hand, he left the device on the counter and walked away, Foxworth said.
No injuries were reported, but the bank was evacuated and sheriff’s explosives experts were called to investigate what the robber left behind, Stubkjaer said.
The sheriff’s Bomb/Arson Unit removed the device from the bank at 1122 Palm Ave. and rendered it safe about 3:25 p.m., she said.
The device did not contain explosive materials, Foxworth said.
The suspect was described as a 19- to 26-year-old white man who was about 5 feet 8 or 5 feet 9 and weighed between 160 and 175 pounds with a medium build.
He had acne around his mouth, cheeks and nose, brown and white wavy hair and possibly had hazel eyes. He was wearing a white, long-sleeved collared shirt and khaki pants.
He should be considered armed and dangerous, Foxworth said.
Foxworth asked anyone with information to contact the FBI at (858) 565-1255 or to call Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
Edo Lito said he was inside the bank Saturday afternoon repairing a drive-up ATM machine when he was told to get out.
“I didn’t even notice that the bank was robbed,” he said.
“I heard running upstairs,” Lito said, “and somebody knocked on the (glass next to the) ATM monitor and said “You need to get out! There's a bomb in the building!’”
Guadalupe White lives down the street and has an account at the bank. Her brother-in-law Steve told her the bank was robbed and she watched the Bomb/Arson Unit at work on the other side of Palm Avenue.
“I only have $20 in my account so they can take it,” she said laughing.
A robbery took place at the same bank Oct. 30.
-City News Service
Local Editor Khari Johnson contributed to this report