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Downtown Tacoma bank robbery, bomb suspect now in federal custody

Post by Stacey Mulick / The News Tribune on Oct. 16, 2009 at 10:23 am with No Comments »
October 16, 2009 2:27 pm
Courtesy of the Pierce County Jail
Michael John Fenter

Federal authorities have taken custody of a man charged with robbing a downtown Tacoma bank earlier this month while armed with what appeared to be a bomb.

Michael Fenter, a 40-year-old Port Townsend father, is scheduled to make his first federal court appearance this afternoon, the FBI reported this morning. He’s been charged by criminal complaint with bank robbery and being armed in the commission of a violent felony.

Fenter had been sitting in Pierce County Jail in lieu of $10 million bail since last week. He initially refused to tell authorities his real name and had been identified in charging documents as “John J. Doe.”

Fenter is accused of robbing the Bank of America, 101 S. Ninth St., on Oct. 8. He reportedly entered the back, approached an assistant manager and said he was representing a group of people who were angry with the government, according to an FBI press release.

He told the employee he had a bomb and ordered the assistant manager to fill a bag with cash. Another employee saw the robbery and called Tacoma police.

Officers surrounded the bank and arrested Fenter as he fled. Fenter had a loaded gun on his right hip at the time of his arrest.

The Tacoma Police Department’s bomb squad unit responded to the scene to investigate the bomb. They found it had an actual blasting cap but was otherwise not dangerous.

Fenter is under investigation for three other similar-style bank robberies in Seattle and California.

The Seattle robbery occured Feb. 4 at the Washington Mutual Bank branch at 1401 Fifth Ave. In that case, the robber left behind a suspicious bag, prompting building evacautions and street closures.

Investigators tried to determine Fenter’s identity through fingerprints. His prints were not in the system. He was ultimately identified through other means.

In 2007, the Port Townsend Leader featured Fenter and his wife after they bought property and developed the Compass Rose Farm. Find that story here.

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