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Published October 26 2011

VIDEO: Fargo police investigate whether bomb threat to school was diversion from armed robbery

FARGO – Police searching for three suspects who robbed a south Fargo Stop-N-Go store Wednesday morning also were investigating whether a bomb threat called in shortly before the robbery may have been a diversion.

Lt. Joel Vettel said three male suspects, one of them carrying a long gun, entered the Stop-N-Go store at 602 23rd St. S. about 6:10 a.m. and demanded money.

A female clerk complied with the men, who tried to get money out of several drawers, Vettel said. The clerk was shaken up but not injured, he said.

The suspects fled the store when they apparently were startled by someone entering the store or parking lot, Vettel said. Police were looking into whether the suspects left on foot or by car.

A police dog attempted to track the suspects, but the trail went cold behind the store north of the Community Homes public housing complex, Vettel said.

Police were reviewing video surveillance tape to determine if the suspects took anything from the store, which opened at 5:55 a.m., Vettel said.

All three suspects had their faces covered. One was described as wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, jeans and a white shirt; a second with a white male wearing a green coat with stripes on the shoulders; and the third had on a blue hooded sweatshirt, black gloves and black jeans.

Police canvassed the area with a picture of a person of interest, Vettel said.

The incident was the latest in the string of local armed robberies, and authorities are investigating whether they are related.

On Wednesday, investigators were looking into whether someone may have tried to create a diversion by calling police at 5:19 a.m. with a bogus bomb threat at McKinley Elementary in north Fargo. The call was made from a pay phone at the Kum & Go store at 2237 13th Ave. S. – about six blocks south of the Stop-N-Go that was robbed less than an hour later – and had “a number of officers tied up,” Vettel said. Police were pulling fingerprints from the pay phone.

Frank Morrow, who runs a 24-hour day care with his girlfriend about a block north of the Stop-N-Go, said this is the second time this year they’ve had to lock down the center because of a robbery.

“As soon as we saw the squad cars, it was like, ‘click,’ lock it down,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528