It was two minutes before the 7 p.m. Friday closing time at Landmark Credit Union on Nov. 16. Inside, staff was shutting down the drive-through, but five teller stations were still open, taking care of last-minute customers. There were even customers still sitting down with three loan officers.
Outside, a Greenfield man was waiting in his car with his fiancée for her daughter, one of the tellers, to get off work. They were parked three or four spots away from the main entrance.
He noticed two men who had gotten out of a car that had just backed into the parking place immediately in front of the doors. The men were masked and both were openly carrying pistols.
"They are going to rob the place!" he blurted to his fiancée. Her first instinct was to jump out of the car and run in after them, to warn her daughter. But her husband-to-be grabbed her and dragged her back into her seat, then pulled out and moved his car to the far end of the parking lot to protect her.
He got out and watched for the men to leave the building.
Many threatened in busy lobby, offices
Inside the credit union at 3600 N. 124th St., the two masked men made no pretense of concealing their intentions, still waving their "small-frame" handguns in front of them. Based on available reports from police interviews, there were at least 11 employees and six customers in the building.
One robber halted just inside, guarding the exit and covering the whole lobby. The other strode straight to the center teller station. He pointed his gun at the 18-year-old teller, employed at Landmark for just a month, put a bag on the counter and said, "Give me all your money."
In her office facing the lobby, a loan officer – a veteran of 12 years and two previous robberies at the credit union – looked up from the couple in her office. She instantly recognized the situation and said, "We're getting robbed."
Both husband and wife spun around to look – but the woman quickly looked away and told her husband not to look at the men.
In another office, this one with the blinds drawn, another couple was discussing a loan with a credit officer, all unaware of the robbery. Suddenly, a man burst into the office and threw himself underneath the loan officer's desk.
Robbers escape with bag of cash
The robber at the counter methodically robbed two more tellers – the last being the daughter of the woman waiting in trepidaton in the parking lot with her fiancé. He held his gun on each one and ordered them to dump their cash drawers into his bag, urging them to hurry.
His accomplice, after the third teller was robbed, shouted, "That's enough, c'mon!"
The bag man ran past his accomplice and pushed on the left of the double doors. It was locked. Perhaps thinking staff had automatically locked down the exit, he pointed his gun at the glass and pulled the trigger.
Several witnesses heard the "click" of the weapon, but there was no report. The gun didn't go off. The second robber pushed open the unlocked right-hand door and the first followed him out.
The Greenfield man outside watched the pair leave and told police they were in a newer white four-door Acura with tinted windows and Illinois license plates. He couldn't read the license number.
Burned getaway car found not far away
That wouldn't matter. Just an hour and a half later, Milwaukee police called Wauwatosa to say that they'd responded to a vehicle fire and thought it might be the getaway car.
Wauwatosa police found the burned-out hulk of a 2007 Acura in field on Milwaukee's northwest side, its Illinois plates still readable. The gas cap and a lighter were found on the ground under the open fuel filler door.
The car had been reported stolen on Oct. 25 during an armed robbery in Waukegan, Ill.
Based on the descriptions of the many witnesses and from video footage, both suspects are thought by police to be white and between 20 and 27 years old.
The man who robbed the tellers was between 5-feet-6- and 5-feet-10-inches tall and from 150 to 170 pounds, wearing a black hat, mask and gloves.
His accomplice who covered the lobby was 5-feet-10- to 5-feet-11-inches tall, also 150 to 170 pounds, wearing black hat, mask and gloves, blue jeans and white tennis shoes with black laces.
In the composite, police issued the description of the robbers' guns as both being black small-frame pistols, although several witnesses said the robber at the counter had a silver handgun.
One of a series of robberies, FBI believes
Including the Landmark robbery, local law enforcement and the FBI are seeking the two men as suspects in at least eight credit union and bank robberies in the past month throughout Southeast Wisconsin, most in Kenosha and Racine, according to Patch's partners at Fox 6 News.
The FBI Milwaukee Division is seeking the public’s help in identifying these serial robbery suspects at seven credit unions and one bank, all thought to be related and committed by the same subjects.
The robberies occurred at the following financial institutions, Fox News said:
- Oct. 18: Educators Credit Union, 7139 N. Port Washington Rd., Glendale
- Oct. 22: Landmark Credit Union, 6219 Washington Ave., Mount Pleasant
- Oct. 23: Landmark Credit Union, 1931 Grove Avenue, Racine
- Nov. 5: TruStone Financial, 2707 30th Ave., Kenosha
- Nov. 6: Landmark Credit Union, 1931 Grove Avenue, Racine
- Nov. 13: North Shore Bank, 6906 Green Bay Road, Kenosha
- Nov. 16: Landmark Credit Union, 3600 N. 124th St., Wauwatosa
- Nov. 20: Southern Lakes Credit Union, 5001 60th St., Kenosha
Anyone with information on these cases is urged to call local law enforcement or the FBI Milwaukee Division at 414-276-4684.