April 15, 2009

By Patrick Blank

For the first time in the history of the Federated States of Micronesia there has been an attempted bank robbery. It happened at the Chuuk Branch of the Bank of FSM on Thursday, March 26, 2009. According to the CIS detectives that were interviewed on this case, Captain Pastor Mesenty, Detective Ignacio Santos, and Detective Petewel Chosa, this is what happened.

Early Thursday morning on March 26, 2009, before most employees of the Bank of FSM Chuuk Branch were at work, three men wearing bandana scarves covering their faces, attempted to rob the bank. One stood as a lookout outside of the bank, while the other two men, armed with a .22 caliber rifle and a shotgun, which is illegal to have in the FSM, went inside the bank around 8:15am. They demanded money from the bank workers that were inside the branch and fired a total of 5 rounds into the ceiling of the bank. The only injury sustained from these blasts was by a woman standing close to the man with the shotgun. She suffered minor powder burns.

Because of the timing of this robbery, most employees were starting to arrive at the branch and some of the male employees began to interfere with the robbers and challenged them by grabbing their guns. Before they touched any money, the robbers decided to flee. A witness outside the bank called the police after hearing the gunshots inside the bank and told them the make and model of vehicle that the masked robbers were speeding away in. The detectives and many police officers were still on their way to work and were on the road when the call came through about the robbery suspects. By using their radios to communicate, the entire police force was heading towards the bank at the time the robbers were fleeing and they were able to spot the vehicle and arrest the three men, who are now in custody at the Chuuk State jail.

Although the names of the suspects were not released due to the ongoing investigation, the police were able to confirm that all three suspects are former deportees from the US for committing similar crimes. One has been back in Chuuk for more than a year and the other two recently returned within a few months and brought back "lessons learned" while robbing stores in Hawaii.

More information on this case will be released following the outcome of the investigation and the ensuing trial.