A suspect was arrested Thursday in connection with a bank robbery in Meeker, Meeker Police Chief Bob Hervey said.
Jock Thacker, of Louisiana, is in custody at Rio Blanco County Jail on suspicion of bank robbery. He is being held on $10,000 bond.
An employee of Mountain Valley Bank, 400 Main St., called 911 at 9:30 a.m. and reported the robbery.
Four Meeker Police officers, three Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Office deputies and one state patrol trooper responded to the scene within a minute and put out a description of the suspect, who had fled.
Authorities described Thacker as a white male, about 25 years old, who is slim, tall and has curly brown hair.
He was reportedly wearing a cowboy hat and cowboy boots with spurs at the time of the robbery.
At 10:30 a.m., Meeker resident Tom George, 41, called Rio Blanco County Sheriff Mike Joos to report a suspicious man matching the description near the Cole Field Services truck yard, located at 163 Water St., in Meeker.
“Really nothing happened, I saw this guy hanging around the truck yard,” said George, a manager at Cole Field Services, adding Joos told him to keep an eye on the suspicious person. “I followed him on foot for about five to 10 minutes, for approximately a quarter of a mile” until law enforcement arrived.
When deputies arrived, Thacker tried to escape by swimming across the White River. He was apprehended upon reaching the other side.
An undisclosed sum of money was taken from the bank and a portion has been recovered, Meeker police reported.
There were no injuries from the robbery and authorities believe the suspect did not use a weapon.
An FBI agent arrived at the scene early Thursday afternoon to assist with the investigation, but Hervey said he anticipates the case will be handled by local law enforcement.
Bank officials had no comment on the incident Thursday, and the bank is closed until further notice.
Further details about the robbery will not be disclosed until the investigation is completed, authorities said.
Stan Wyatt, 47, owner of Wyatt’s Sports Center located at 223 Eighth St., said he was shocked when he heard about the robbery.
“I was surprised when I learned he was on foot,” Wyatt said. “I would have assumed he was in a vehicle — it’s not like you’re going to disappear into a big city crowd.”
Wyatt has lived in Meeker for more than 19 years. He said things like bank robberies don’t happen often in his small town.
“This is definitely unique for Meeker,” Wyatt said. “I don’t know when the last bank robbery took place, but there definitely hasn’t been one in the 19 years I’ve lived here.”
Ardith Douglass, curator of the White River Museum, said it’s been almost 116 years since the last bank robbery in Meeker.
The story of the “Meeker Bank Robbery” of Oct. 13, 1896, features a cast of three armed bandits known by their fictitious names of Charles Jones, 45; George Harris, 35; and Billy Smith, 21, aka “The Kid.”
After robbing the old Hugus Building, which doubled as a general store in addition to housing the Meeker Bank, the three men exited to find a posse of about a dozen armed residents waiting for them on the street.
A gunfight ensued.
After the smoke cleared, two Meeker residents were wounded, but all three robbers were shot dead.
“That was the first and only other bank robbery in town,” Douglass said.
The Meeker Bank Robbery continues to be an important historical event and is celebrated annually on the Fourth of July with a reenactment.
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