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‘Cotton Ball’ Watch goes into Day 3

Police haven’t yet identified a suspect shot at the end of a frantic chase on Wednesday as the serial bank robber wanted by the FBI.

Is the Novato bank robbery suspect who led authorities on a frantic chase Wednesday morning one of the most prolific Marin County bank robbers in recent history?

Probably so, but authorities remained tight-lipped on Thursday as “Cotton Ball” Watch appeared to be headed into Day 3.

San Rafael Police Department spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said authorities wouldn’t confirm whether the man who allegedly robbed a Bank of the West on 1313 Grant Avenue on Wednesday morning is the serial robber who hit 10 banks over a one-year period.

If in fact the suspect in Wednesday’s incident is the “Cotton Ball Bandit,” he spent the one-year anniversary of his first heist in a hospital bed (he hit the Chase Bank at 401 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Greenbrae on Dec. 12 of last year).

The suspect is recovering from gunshot wounds he suffered after pulling a gun on a sheriff’s deputy who chased him from Highway 101 through the streets of downtown San Rafael all to Northgate Mall, police said.

The chase ended when the suspect crashed into a parking sign on Las Gallinas Avenue near the mall and tried to run away.

Rohrbacher said the suspect’s identity wouldn’t be confirmed until Friday at the soonest.

“There will definitely not be a name today,” Rohrbacher said.

She cited an ongoing probe into what she acknowledged is a complicated case to be a key factor in the decision to withhold the suspect’s identity.

Investigators have not yet completed interviews with the suspect’s family members that may be important to the case.

“We have investigative leads we need to follow and we don’t want to release that information until we’ve followed up on all of these leads,” Rohrbacher said.

Multiple agencies including the FBI, which has issued a $2,500 reward for the serial robber’s capture, are involved in the investigation.

“The Cotton Ball case has got four agencies, and 10 or 11 robberies,” Rohrbacher said.

“There’s a lot to tie together if in fact it does turn out to be him, so there’s a lot of legwork to be done tying those cases together.”

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