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'This wasn't a crime of opportunity': Police ask for public's assistance in finding MV bank robbers

A photo of one of the masked robbers during the crime.
google maps / Cape and Islands District Attorney's office
A photo of one of the masked robbers during the crime.

Police from every Martha’s Vineyard town are collaborating with the FBI and state police to end the manhunt for three suspects who robbed a Vineyard Haven bank at gunpointon Thursday. CAI’s Eve Zuckoff spoke with Edgartown Police Chief Bruce McNamee in an exclusive interview to learn more about the suspects, investigation, and what the public can do to keep safe.

You can see a photo of a suspect during the robbery here. All information can be sent to Tisbury PD at 508-696-4240.

EZ What's the latest you can tell me about the investigation?

Chief McNamee Well, it's still a pending investigation. The information that we have that brought us off island yesterday didn't bear fruit like we had hoped. So it's primarily, we're investigating locally. We're working with the state police as well as the FBI. All of the island police departments have contributed members to work as a team on the robbery.

EZ But the idea is this investigation is really focused on the island. You don't think these suspects have left?

Chief McNamee I don't know that I could say that. I couldn't say where they are at present.

EZ Okay. What kinds of precautions should the public be taking at this time during this manhunt?

Chief McNamee Well, a robbery like this is unsettling on Martha's Vineyard, especially because people come here, they choose to live here, not just because of its natural beauty, but a place like this kind of lacks that off-island behavior that people choose [to avoid]. An armed robbery — that's pretty well into that. But this wasn't a crime of opportunity. This wasn't a random home invasion or an attempted abduction on a roadside. The execution of this robbery required a pretty high level of sophistication. There was timing and the precise execution of it that was well-planned out. So, again, not that people shouldn't be concerned, but I don't think there's any cause for panic or excessive undue alarm. You know, it's sort of hackneyed saying, but, ‘See something, say something.’ We're really looking for information from the public as to anything they may have seen in and around where the bank was or where the car was recovered yesterday out off of Barnes Road.

EZ If you had young children right now, would you be hesitant to have them play in the yard?

Chief McNamee I would not have that reservation. My wife works in the school system here and I would have no reservation about her going to work as she would any other day. We are working at this, and I think we'll see it brought to a resolution soon.

EZ Are you still telling the public that these suspects are armed and dangerous?

Chief McNamee Yes, they certainly were armed and they pointed their guns at the bank staff there. They would be armed and dangerous. But crimes like this, bank robberies in particular, have a very high solvability rate, some of the highest of property crimes in general. And as I stated, we are working with our partners at the state and federal level. I wouldn't be surprised to see that this is brought to a conclusion in the near future. But the island people can expect to see a higher police presence around the island the next few days, whether it's on the roadside or — we've made a concerted effort to be more visible at the area schools. There's no threat to any of the students or the school, but I do think it brings comfort to people to see that presence there during the pickups and drop-offs during the school day. We want to see life return to normalcy as much as we can, despite something like this having had occurred in our community.

EZ Anything else you want to add, Chief, before I thank you and let you go?

Chief McNamee Crimes like this are uncommon, even off island. Remarkably so here. And I don't want something like this in any way taints people's opinions of where they live over here. This remains a beautiful place to call your home. And this is very, very much an anomaly for what we're used to over here. And I would want people to know that their local law enforcement is working diligently to bring this matter to a close.

This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.