CONTINUING COVERAGE: Suspect arrested in string of bank robberies - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

CONTINUING COVERAGE: Suspect arrested in string of bank robberies

MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison Police tell 27 News a man arrested near the scene of a Madison bank robbery is a suspect in half a dozen recent area bank heists.

Authorities also said a bank customer was instrumental in leading police officers to suspect John Kowal of Madison after the Sept. 16 heist.   "This person followed (the suspect) at a very safe distance in his vehicle,"  police spokesperson Joel DeSpain told 27 News.   "The whole time, he's on the cell phone, telling what direction this guy's running."

A federal indictment alleges Kowal, 23,  robbed the Anchor Bank branch, but DeSpain told 27 News Kowal is also a suspect in other bank robberies in Madison, Monona and Middleton beginning in March.

DeSpain said the bank customer's information was even more critical because the suspect in the most recent heist did not appear to resemble a person captured on surveillance camera footage from one of the earlier crimes.   "This guy looks dramatically different with his hat off, with long hair, than he did in the surveillance picture, when he had sunglasses on and a knit cap."

Kowal was also arrested by a Madison police officer Sept. 14, approximately 48 hours before the Anchor Bank robbery, after being stopped for alleged drunken driving.   Records show Kowal was jailed on a Rock County arrest warrant for an unpaid fine and spent five hours in the Dane County jail.   Kowal's jail booking photos include photos of distinctive tattoos on his arm and chest.   Kowal was released after the fine was paid.   There's no indication Kowal was considered a suspect in the previous bank heists or any other crimes at that time.

DeSpain said the clothing worn by the suspect in the Anchor Bank robbery was similar to clothing worn by the thief in at least one of the previous bank heists.  A Middleton police investigator and officials with the U.S. Attorney's office for Wisconsin's western district refused comment on why they believe Kowal may be responsible for the rash of bank heists.

Kowal is scheduled to make an appearance in federal court Sept. 19.




(From August 14th)

MIDDLETON (WKOW) -- From Middleton Police Department:

Middleton Police are investigating a bank robbery that occurred at the State Bank of Cross Plains, 6300 University Ave. at 10:14 AM. Middleton police dispatch received a 911 call from a bank employee reporting the robbery, followed quickly thereafter by an alarm coming from the bank.

Initial investigation indicates the suspect entered the bank, presented a note to the teller which indicated he was robbing the bank and that he had a gun. No weapon was displayed. The suspect was given an undisclosed amount of cash and fled the bank on foot, running in a westerly direction. No one was injured.

The suspect was described as a male, white, early 20's, 5'7" tall, slim, wearing a dark knit hat with a brim, long sleeve olive green shirt, and jeans.

Detectives investigating the latest robbery believe that the suspect is also responsible for four other robberies:

June 17, 2008              M&I Bank                                                          Monona

May 7, 2008                State Bank of Cross Plains,       6300 University, Middleton

April 11, 2008              State Bank of Cross Plains,       8301 University, Middleton

March 19, 2008           Amcore Bank,                          Odana Rd,          Madison

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