Minnetonka police are trying to establish the identity of a man they say presented an incomprehensible demand note to confused bank employees and then asked for an interpreter.
The suspect, who appeared to be in his 50s and spoke in halting English, is suspected of trying to hold up a Wells Fargo branch just east of Ridgedale on Aug. 19, according to a search warrant affidavit.
Authorities said the man walked into the bank about 1:30 p.m. and handed the branch manager a note demanding a large sum of money or he would set off a bomb.
“WE CAUTION WE HOLD TH BOMB, IF ONE TRIES TO (TREACHERY) WILL DIE AND SAIDTHAT YOU WOULD NOT WANT TO PlAY DIE WE NEED SEVENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS WITH OUT THE PIECE WE SEE YOU WELL AND YOUR FAMILY ARE WAITING FOR YOU AGINE NO (TREACHERY). (NB) READ 4 MINUTES SENT THE HOSTAGE BOMB WE NEED THE $75,000.00.”
The manager later told police that he was unsure of whether the bomb threat was intended for him or the bank, even after reading the note several times, according to the affidavit, filed this week in Hennepin County District Court.
But authorities Wednesday said they now question whether the man even intended to rob the bank.
“We’re still trying to figure out exactly what occurred that day, but we’re not treating it as a bank robbery attempt,” said police spokeswoman Kari Spreeman.
The man tried to explain his demands but had trouble because of the language barrier and then asked for an Arabic interpreter, authorities said.
“The manager had an employee call an employee at another branch who speaks Arabic,” the affidavit stated. “The translator stated the male was asking to make a deposit.”
Authorities say that at the same time the suspect was on the phone with an accomplice, who instructed the manager to “give him the money.” The manager responded, “OK,” hung up and called police. The man was not given any money before he fled in a white van before police arrived. He was not believed to have been armed.
The note was written on the back of a withdrawal slip with a bank account number that police traced to a 31-year-old man they believe was the suspect’s accomplice, according to the affidavit.