December 5, 2002 in City

Transient held in 3 bank heists

Bill Morlin The Spokesman-Review
 

A fingerprint on a robbery note led FBI agents and police detectives to a homeless suspect who was accused Wednesday of robbing three banks in four days.

Douglas E. Labish, 27, was ordered held in jail without bond after being arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno.

He is charged in a three-count federal indictment of robbing three Spokane banks, two of them within walking distance of a homeless shelter where he was staying.

Labish is accused of robbing Farmers & Merchants Bank at 933 E. Mission of $473 on Oct. 26.

He’s also accused of being the robber who - two days later - entered a Washington Trust Bank branch at 27 E. Indiana and left with $14,160.

Court documents say the robber entered that bank and passed a teller a note.

“Don’t reach for anything,” the robber then told the teller, “or I’m going to shoot you.”

As the teller began removing money from her drawer, the robber barked: “I mean it. I’m going to shoot you.”

The teller handed over large-denomination bills to the robber.

Grabbing the loot, the robber asked the teller: “Are you having a good day?”

She nodded her head.

Then she asked the robber if he wanted a bag to hold all the money, but he declined and walked out of the bank.

A bank employee who was returning to work spotted the robber as he ran down the street.

After confirming the bank had been robbed, the employee followed the suspect to the nearby Teamsters office building where she spotted him shedding clothes.

The witness returned to the bank where she told police about following the suspect and the clothing change.

By the time police went to the office building, the suspect had vanished.

But the robber left behind a denim jacket and a plaid shirt that containing two holdup notes.

The notes were taken to the sheriff department’s identification unit for processing.

As that was occurring, the robber struck again, hitting a Bank of America branch at 8505 E. Sprague on Oct. 31.

Court documents say the robber got away with only $40, and they were bait bills.

On Nov. 1 forensic specialist Julie Combs, using a computer database, matched the fingerprints on the hold-up notes found in the clothes to those of Labish, court documents say.

A federal warrant for Labish’s arrest was issued Nov. 4. Spokane police detectives and FBI agents arrested him at a homeless shelter on East Indiana, authorities said.


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