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Published January 04 2012

Five days, three bank heists

ARDEN HILLS, Minn. – A felon suspected of robbing a bank in Fargo on New Year’s Eve and another in Minnesota two days later is now suspected in a third bank robbery here Wednesday morning.

Fargo police have identified the suspect as William Roy St. John, a 43-year-old South Dakota man who is just a few weeks out of federal prison in Missouri. He had served a five-year sentence for larceny and possession of a firearm by a felon, according to Lt. Joel Vettel of the Fargo police.

St. John’s criminal record stretches back considerably further, including felonies in Minnesota for assault, theft and robbery over the past 25 years.

Vettel said St. John had friends in Fargo, and had been here prior to the robbery on Saturday morning.

He was first identified by a South Dakota-based federal agent, who recognized him from surveillance footage from the robberies at Bank of the West at 3203 32nd. Ave. S in Fargo and a U.S. Bank in Bloomington, Minn. Wednesday’s robbery was at a Wells Fargo bank branch.

In all three robberies, St. John is alleged to have handed a note to the teller demanding cash. The amount of cash taken has not been disclosed.

He allegedly has implied that he has a weapon, and Vettel said he’s believed to be armed.

“He’s stated that he had a gun, so we have no reason to believe he doesn’t,” Vettel said. “He has a history with firearms.”

Footage from the first two robberies showed the suspect – described as a Native American man of medium build between 5 feet 7 inches and 6 feet tall – wearing a black leather jacket. In the footage from Wednesday’s robbery, the suspect is in a black parka and dark sunglasses.

A gold Chevrolet Malibu with South Dakota license plates was identified as a possible vehicle in the Fargo robbery, though Vettel said it’s unclear if that vehicle is still involved.

“He has a history of changing vehicles quite often,” he said.

The FBI is also involved in the search for St. John, Vettel said, and a federal probation warrant has been issued.

Anyone with information about the robberies is asked to call the Fargo Police Department at (701) 235-4493 or the FBI at (612) 376-3200.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502