Schools open, search quietly continues

FBI says bank robbery investigation remains ‘very active.’


The Vineyard was much quieter on Friday, the day after three armed robbers held up the Vineyard Haven branch of Rockland Trust. Gone was the large police presence at the bank and the police tape surrounding the place. The noise of State Police aircraft was no longer heard. Nevertheless, according to the FBI, the investigation remains afoot. 

“This continues to remain a very active investigation and the search for the suspects continues,” FBI spokesperson Kristen Setera emailed. “We urge the public to remain vigilant and to report any and all suspicious activity and individuals to law enforcement.”

Setera declined to comment on the amount of money taken from the bank. 

After lockdowns Thursday, Martha’s Vineyard schools opted to open Friday but with modifications to keep children out of harm’s way. 

“We’re working on some leads,” Tisbury Police Lt. Bill Brigham said. Brigham said all the Island’s law enforcement agencies are assisting the State Police and FBI with the investigation. Brigham said while he believed the robbers executed a targeted crime and there’s no reason to think they would menace the public, he nevertheless cautioned the public to keep vigilant and report anything suspicious to Tisbury or State Police. The suspects are still considered armed and dangerous, he said. When asked how much money was stolen, Brigham said, “we know how much was taken.” However, since the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office has taken over the communication about the investigation, he said that’s not something the Tisbury Police Department can disclose. 

When asked for updates Friday morning, Tara Miltimore, spokesperson for the DA’s office, wrote, “The matter remains under active investigation.” 

In a letter to parents, Superintendent Richie Smith thanked them for their support and then explained how school would operate on the Island Friday.
“We will have school tomorrow. It will be a regular school day with regular routines for our children,” Smith wrote. “However, we will not conduct outdoor activities and there will be no field trips conducted tomorrow.  After school events will run as scheduled.”

Schools were put on shelter in place on Thursday during the height of the investigation into an armed bank robbery at the Rockland Trust branch on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Vineyard Haven. According to police, three suspects, armed with handguns, rushed the bank as it opened at 8:15 am, tied up two bank tellers, fled the scene in a vehicle stolen from a teller, and ditched it at a parking lot near the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.

“The question we must consider is where do we truly believe our children are more safe?  When considering that many of our children might remain home alone if schools are closed, I believe very strongly that our schools are the safest option, especially with the support of our police departments,” Smith wrote. “I have been assured by the police chiefs of our six towns, that each school will have a strong presence tomorrow during morning drop-off, afternoon pick up, and all the time in between and including after school events. I appreciated their support today and I have no doubt that they will be present on our school grounds in support of our children.”

Smith asked parents to send their children to school, but to either bring them to and from or to escort them to their buses and to be there when they are picked up.
“I wish to close by saying, we will respect your decision as parents as to whether you decide if your child will attend school tomorrow as I understand that this may be an anxious time for you and your child,” Smith wrote. “Thank you again for your tremendous support and understanding.”

Meanwhile, Late in the day Thursday, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe issued a statement on the robbery saying it occurred at 8:15 am. “Three unknown individuals rushed into the bank as employees entered to open the bank for business. These subjects were masked, gloved and armed with handguns,” according to the statement. “The District Attorney and Chief Habekost want to stress that Island residents should remain vigilant,  however, they should not be overly alarmed. This was a targeted crime and there is no additional  information that should cause undue fear.”

According to the DA’s statement, all three subjects wore masks like the ones shown in their press release from a photo taken at the scene. “Anyone with  information is asked to please contact Tisbury PD @ 508-696-4240 or Trooper Dustin Shaw @ 508-693- 0545,” the release states.

Also on Thursday night, there was a lot of helicopter activity on the Island, as well as an apparent meeting of law enforcement officials at State Police headquarters in Oak Bluffs.



  1. Many crimes are solved by the public. All we got was one blurry image of one robber. How about some video so we can hear the voices. Did robbers walk there? If so why aren’t you interviewing the hundreds of construction workers who drive to work at that same time? And how about a reward? Rewards solve many crimes. Did they check costume stores on Island? I’m just not impressed with the detective work.

    • Mark– It seems you are commenting before you have had your morning coffee.
      Let me explain some things–
      Surveillance cameras are prohibited by law to record audio. Surveillance “Video” has no sound.
      Do you really want the police to find and interview only “hundreds of construction workers who drive to work at that same time?”
      Why wouldn’t they interview the hundreds of retail clerks, insurance agents, teachers, utility line workers, farmers, nurses, doctors, councilors, landscapers and house cleaners , just for example who drive to work at that same time?
      Why do you think they should interview only construction workers who happen to be driving by at that time of day? And how would you know, out of the hundreds of vehicles passing by there at that time of day which ones were construction workers?
      And really, Mark– Do you really think that “interviewing” hundreds of construction workers would turn up anything ?
      Just pull them out of their cars, and take them to the “interrogation” rooms ?
      I really don’t want to get into your motivations for such a ( fill in the mad lib adjective here) comment, but it seems that there may be some implicit bias rearing its head here. Could you clarify as to to how you think this tactic would be constitute impressive detective work?
      But, as a member of the public, who seems to be interested in a reward, you could help out and at the least call the police and tip them off about where all the “costume stores” are on this island.
      Who knows, perhaps your tip could net you some quick cash.

Comments are closed.