A Michigan man allegedly told police he robbed an Itasca County bank because he ran out of money while traveling to California.
Connor David Johnson, 23, allegedly brandished a flare gun before making off with a "large amount of cash" from the La Prairie branch of the First National Bank of Coleraine on Tuesday. He was arrested a short time later in the woods behind the bank.
Johnson, who has no permanent address, was arraigned Thursday in State District Court in Grand Rapids on charges of aggravated first-degree robbery and two counts of second-degree assault.
Ninth Judicial District Judge Heidi Chandler set bail at $200,000 with conditions or $400,000 without.
According to the complaint:
The Itasca County Sheriff's Office responded to the bank, 1220 E. U.S. Highway 169, just after 4:20 p.m. A suspect was described as being approximately 5 feet, 9 inches tall, wearing a gray hoodie and carrying a weapon and a can of mace.
An eyewitness reported seeing the suspect flee into the woods behind the bank. Officers from multiple agencies set up a perimeter around the area, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer Mike Fairbanks began a track with his K-9 partner, Si.
The pursuit continued for about two miles until Johnson was located. He was wearing a black backpack.
In an interview at the sheriff's office, Johnson indicated he had been traveling from Michigan to California when he ran out of cash. He said he had been "checking out" the bank, ultimately choosing to rob that location "because it was on the edge of town, near a trail for easy getaway and Grand Rapids is a smaller town, likely with a slower law enforcement response."
Johnson went on to admit that his backpack contained the cash taken from the bank, as well as a flare gun that had been painted black to resemble a firearm and a buck knife. He admitted he entered the bank and pointed the fake weapon at bank staff before leaving with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Around 6 p.m., dispatchers received a report of an abandoned vehicle with Michigan plates off U.S. Highway 2 in La Prairie. A check revealed it was licensed to Johnson in Ada, Mich.
Johnson has two felony convictions in Michigan for breaking and entering with intent, as well as misdemeanor domestic assault and interference with electronic communications.
Johnson remains in the Itasca County Jail, with his next court appearance set for April 29.