The frantic pursuit of a Novato bank robbery suspect ended Wednesday morning with the suspect being shot just outside San Rafael’s Northgate Mall, authorities said.
The suspect was transported to a local hospital with unspecified injuries, San Rafael Police Department spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said. His condition wasn’t immediately known.
All signs point to the suspect being the serial bank robber who’s hit 10 Marin County banks in the last year, but police won’t yet confirm whether the man in custody is the so called “Cotton Ball Bandit.”
“It’s all too soon for any of that, at this point this is a response to a robbery in Novato,” Rohrbacher said near an area outside the mall where dozens of investigators from multiple agencies including the FBI investigating the case shuffled around.
Today’s robbery of a Bank of the West on 1313 Grant Avenue matched the serial robber’s modus operandi to the letter though.
The “Cotton Ball Bandit,” so named because of the pom-pom ball atop the brown knit hat with earflaps he’s worn during most of his robberies, hits almost exclusively on Wednesdays and usually during the 9 a.m. hour.
Novato police broadcast a suspect and vehicle description shortly after the robbery, and authorities throughout the county instituted a “roadblock protocol” with police on alert on all freeways and major roadways.
A sheriff’s deputy who spotted a silver Saturn matching the vehicle description on U.S. 101 at about 9:15, Rohrbacher said. The motorist failed to comply with the deputy’s stop order, instead taking the Lincoln Boulevard exit and leading authorities on a chase through San Rafael’s city streets.
The suspect crashed into a parking sign and tried to run away. He didn’t get far.
“He was across the street, he had a handgun, and he confronted the officers and then he was shot,” Rohrbacher said.
Rohrbacher would only confirm that like the serial robber, the suspect in today’s incident was a white male.
Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of the “Cotton Ball Bandit’s” first heist. He hit a Chase Bank, 401 Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Greenbrae on Dec. 12 of last year.
The FBI earlier this year issued a $2,500 reward for information leading to his capture.
“If it does turn out to be him we would be happy that we would have stopped the series, but we’ll have to see,” she said.