Andrew Reuter
A Janesville police officer responding to a report of a downtown bank robbery encountered a man with a double-barreled shotgun, said Sgt. Mike Blaser.

Janesville man suspected in robbery at BMO Harris Bank

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Gazette staff
December 3, 2015

JANESVILLE—Police arrested a Janesville man after they saw him running down Main Street with a double-barreled shotgun following the robbery of BMO Harris Bank in downtown Janesville on Thursday afternoon, police said.

Police arrested Seth A. Gardner, 40, of 3611 S. Read Road, Janesville, on suspicion of armed robbery, possession of a firearm by a felon and probation violation, according to a Janesville Police Department news release.

Shortly after the robbery was reported at 3:45 p.m., officers responding stopped Gardner as he was running along North Main Street, south of the bank, 100 N. Main St., according to the release.

Gardner is one of two people police took into custody Thursday, Janesville police Sgt. Mike Blaser told The Gazette. He declined to release details Thursday night about the second person arrested.

Police at the scene recovered the gun, money and a mask. Police recovered "additional evidence" while executing a search warrant at 20 N. Main Street, No. 307, police said. 

Gardner confessed to detectives he committed the robbery, police said.

Blaser said police were still investigating Thursday evening but confirmed no one was hurt and no shots were fired during the robbery or afterward.

Police acknowledged they'd impounded a "vehicle of interest."

Shortly before 7 p.m., Gazette reporters observed a flatbed tow truck operator impounding a black, late-model Ford car that was along North Main Street a few blocks south of the bank. The tow-truck operator declined comment.

Blaser said he could not immediately give details of the robbery, and he said police were still trying to learn how many people might have been involved. But police reopened Main Street and the few blocks around it after officers armed with assault rifles had blockaded the area for more than two hours.

"We're sifting through a ton of statements from witnesses," including employees and customers who were in the bank, Blaser said. He did not immediately know how many employees and customers were in the bank during the robbery, and it wasn't clear if there is any security footage of the robbery.

Blaser said the bank was considered secured, and he said the second man taken into custody was not inside the bank when police located him. Blaser would not give other details of the encounter with the second man, and he would not say whether either person made off with money from the bank.

Multiple bank employees police had evacuated from BMO Harris were released in the tense hours after the robbery, but declined comment to Gazette reporters on scene outside the bank.

Officers closed several streets around the area, but by 5:15 p.m. police allowed employees to re-enter the building, and squad cars began leaving the scene.

Police at the scene carried assault rifles, and at least five Janesville police and Rock County sheriff's deputies' cars were parked at the corner of Milwaukee and Main streets.

A Gazette reporter at at 4:39 p.m. reported seeing police inside the bank searching the building with lights attached to rifles. Police also appeared to be checking inside businesses along North Main Street.

A city bus was brought in to shelter bank employees until they could be interviewed by police inside another nearby business. Police issued an advisory at 4:41 p.m., encouraging people to stay out of the area while they processed the crime scene.

The Rock County Sheriff's Office assisted the Janesville Police Department.

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