By Ron Leir
At Nutley High School on Saturday, the Maroon Raiders were banging heads with the Irvington team on the gridiron but just across the street, another kind of activity was happening that had plenty of potential for violence.
At 12:05 p.m., Nutley Police responded to a silent alarm at the TD Bank on Franklin Ave., between Church and William Sts., and learned that a man had just robbed the bank and fled the scene.
Based on interviews with the several employees and at least one customer inside at the time, police determined that the robber drove into the bank parking lot, walked inside, grabbed a withdrawal slip and wrote on it, “Give me all your money.”
The man, who made no effort to conceal his face, then walked to a teller window and placed the slip under the glass window for the teller to read and then told her not to panic, police said.
“When the teller read the note, she gasped for air,” said Det. Anthony Montanari, the lead investigator in the case. “So the man again told her not to panic.”
At the same time, Montanari said, the man reached down to his pants, as if to suggest that he had a weapon.
The teller then gave the robber an undisclosed amount of cash and he left the bank, driving away in a beige Honda, after which, the teller activated a silent alarm, bringing police to the scene.
No weapon was shown during the incident, Montanari said.
“With the cooperation of witnesses, and with surveillance video, we were able to ascertain the make, model and registration of the vehicle,” Montanari said.
Assisted by Newark Police, Essex County Prosecutor’s investigators and federal agents, Nutley police officers and detectives located a 1995 beige Honda, believed to be the vehicle used by the robber, on Alexander St. in Newark.
Newark PD impounded the Honda.
A short time later, police arrested the suspect, Michael Evans, 49, hiding in a nearby rear yard. Police said Evans had cash stuffed in plastic bags and other items reportedly linking Evans to the robbery.
Montanari declined to say how much money was in Evans’ possession, nor would be identify the items found on the suspect.
“At the time of his arrest, Evans was dressed in a shirt very similar to the one seen in the (surveillance) video,” Montanari said.
The Honda has been transferred to the Nutley PD crime scene laboratory and police are seeking a search warrant to check the vehicle for possible evidence, Montanari said.
“No weapon has been recovered as of yet,” he added.
After complaining of chest pains, Evans was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville, for observation and was later released to Nutley PD.
Evans’ capture was achieved within an hour of the robbery, according to Montanari.
Evans has been charged with robbery and theft, second degree crimes that are indictable. He is being held at the Essex County Jail on $275,000 bail.
Montanari described Evans as “a family man, self-employed owner/operator driver, who had financial difficulties and acted in desperation. He was very remorseful about how he had frightened the teller.”
Nutley Police Det. Sgt. Pete LoCurto, Det. Robert McDermott and Patrol Sgt. Pete Teine all played key roles in the investigation, Montanari said.
Nutley Police Chief John Holland said that police are trying to recover all the stolen proceeds from the robbery. He said he was thankful that none of the bank’s employees, customers or police were hurt as a result of a crime “that could have gone terribly wrong.”
And Nutley Police Commissioner Alphonse Petracco commended the department’s officers and community members for their actions and thanked Newark PD, FBI and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office for their help.