Authorities think Wednesday's robbery is connected to one committed last week at Citizens Bank in Hudson because clothing in the surveillance video from both robberies is similar.
The robber hit the Associated Bank branch on Second Street in Hudson, Wis., just after 10 a.m. Wednesday, flashing a handgun and making off with the usual "undisclosed" amount of money.
A short while later he lay dead -- apparently by his own hand -- in his getaway car as police closed in.
Authorities say they expect to release his name today after verification of his identity and notification of next of kin.
This was the second bank robbery in Hudson in a week, and police detective Shawn Pettee said there's a "high probability" this man pulled both.
The heist at the Associated Bank branch at 307 2nd St. quickly became the talk of the town. People near the bank called it the latest in a string of robberies that has included a bowling alley, a taco shop, a gas station and even a vegetable stand. Last Friday, the town's Citizens Bank was robbed.
Pettee said the man entered Associated Bank, pointed a black semiautomatic at the teller, demanded money and left with an undisclosed amount in a white Mustang.
The robber fled into Minnesota and pulled into Lakeview Hospital's east parking lot. A squad car pulled up behind, blocking him. Officers heard one shot, approached the Mustang and found the driver dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Police said none of the officers fired their weapons. The man's body was taken to the Ramsey County medical examiner's office in St. Paul.
The car's license plates had been removed before the robbery, police said. "Identifying material" was found in the car, but they aren't sure the driver is that person.
"We don't know who the vehicle is registered to," said Stillwater Sgt. Jeff Magler. Police searched the car late Wednesday afternoon, Pettee said.
Authorities say the robber's clothing in surveillance video is similar in both bank robberies, though the cars are different. In Friday's robbery, the suspect used a dark Buick.
Ann Bellows, a spokeswoman for Lakeview Hospital, said no staff members or visitors were in the parking lot when the robber pulled in.
Late Wednesday afternoon, yellow police tape encircled the front entrance to Associated Bank. To the rear, along the St. Croix River, the drive-up lanes remained open. A woman who manages the bank spoke with a customer, apologizing for the inconvenience.
"But we're all safe," said the manager, who declined to give her name. The bank's corporate office in Milwaukee declined to comment.
Across the street, behind the glass front of Seasons on St. Croix gift shop, owner Ruth Misenko and several workers had just opened when the robbery occurred. Police cars suddenly appeared and an officer was stringing yellow tape, Misenko said.
A few doors away, barber Dan Setzer said he was getting ready to head to the bank for change when a customer burst in, announcing that the bank had been robbed.
"It's a small town," Setzer said. "Everybody knew about it within minutes of it happening, and it was a silent alarm."
Allie Shah 651-298-1550 Joy Powell 612-673-7750
Staff writers Pat Pheifer, Mary Lynn Smith and Tim Harlow contributed to this report.