PLAIN — Authorities are investigating an armed robbery at The Peoples Community Bank in which bank employees allegedly were pepper sprayed and threatened with handguns by a pair of assailants.
Sauk County Sheriff Chip Meister said two men entered the bank through the front door just before 10 a.m. wearing dark-colored clothing and masks that covered most of their faces. They are believed to be African-American.
The men pointed their weapons at bank employees and forced them to hand over cash from several areas of the bank, according to a Sauk County Sheriff’s Department news release.
After the robbers were given an unknown sum of cash, they directed employees inside the bank into a corner and sprayed them with a substance police believe was pepper spray. The two men then fled on foot, Meister said.
Authorities said all bank employees were transported to Sauk Prairie Hospital for exposure to the suspected pepper spray. They were treated and released, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
The Sauk County Communications Center received a 911 call reporting the robbery about 10:05 a.m.
The Sauk County Sheriff’s Department and local police set up a mobile command center in the village Tuesday morning. An elementary school was placed on lockdown as authorities searched for the suspects using a K-9 and other officers. The Sauk County Sheriff’s Department, Spring Green Police Department, Wisconsin State Patrol, Sauk Prairie Police Department, Baraboo Police Department, Plain and Spring Green ambulance services and Sauk County Emergency Management assisted Tuesday. The sheriff’s department will be assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in its ongoing investigation.
Cheri Carpenter, an employee at the Plain Kwik Stop and a lifelong resident of the village, said she heard sirens and then saw an ambulance pull up in front of the bank.
“When I looked and saw the ambulance, I saw the cop car was sitting over at the bank already,” she said.
Carpenter has a view of the bank’s front door from behind her counter but said she didn’t see anything out of the ordinary until the authorities started responding.
“And usually I’m pretty observant,” she said.
Carpenter said she was watching things unfold in between serving customers Tuesday. Many people came into the convenience store wondering what was going on.
The employee said “nothing this big” has happened in the village in her lifetime.
“It’s kind of a scary situation here,” she said.
The sheriff’s office has asked anyone with knowledge of this or any other crime to call 1-800-377-1195 or Sauk County Crimestoppers at 1-888-847-7285.