Federal charge in credit union robbery

David Saunders. (Aug. 21, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A man arrested after a standoff is being charged federally for robbing a credit union in Grand Rapids.

David Saunders, 23, was arrested Tuesday evening after a two-hour standoff in Grand Rapids’ Midtown neighborhood. Police say he robbed the Lake Michigan Credit Union inside Mercy Health Saint Mary’s hospital on Jefferson Avenue SE on Monday afternoon.

Saunders was initially charged at the state level with bank robbery, but those were dropped in favor of federal charges. Bank robberies are typically prosecuted at the federal level.

According to a federal criminal complaint written by an FBI agent and filed Wednesday, the robber entered the credit union just after 3:20 p.m. Monday and gave a teller a note that said something to the effect of, “This is a robbery, count the money, I have a weapon, do as I say and no one gets hurt.”

The teller gave the robber more than $2,270 from the drawer and he left, the complaint said. He was in the credit union only about two minutes.

Police released surveillance images of the bank robber, some of which showed his entire face, to the media. The criminal complaint says the Grand Rapids Police Department then got several tips about the robber, which allowed investigators to identify him as Saunders.

According to the complaint, a witness told GRPD on Tuesday that he or she drove Saunders to the credit union, that Saunders left the credit union with a “large wad of cash” and the witness then dropped Saunders off at a residence on Grand Avenue NE near Fulton Street.

Police then got more tips that Saunders had spent the night at the house on Grand and may still be there. They got a search warrant and the standoff ensued.

Saunders had shaved his head before his arrest, police say. When investigators searched the house on Grand, they found the hair that Saunders had cut off and clothes matching those worn by the robber, according to the criminal complaint.

Saunders was hospitalized after telling police he had ingested illegal drugs, which may have included cocaine and/or heroin.

He declined to talk to investigators without an attorney present, according to the criminal complaint.

He has not yet been indicted.

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