Salt Lake police officers believe they have caught the "Bandanna Bandit," suspected of more than 20 Salt Lake County robberies.
Officers arrested a man after he apparently robbed the Emigration Food Town, 1706 E. 1300 South, about 6 p.m. Friday. He took money from the store's cash registers and the wallets of two patrons. He stuffed the goods into a brown paper bag and ran.Officers found a man matching the thief's description 30 minutes later hiding in a garage a few blocks away. The man had a silver revolver, resembling the weapon described in a string of armed heists - mostly gas stations and grocery stores - dating back to February.
"This one made 22 robberies between us (Salt Lake City,) the county, Murray and West Valley," said Salt Lake Police Lt. Phil Kirk. "We found him with a red bandanna, which is what was worn in the other robberies."
The man entered the Emigration Market waving a gun and screaming epithets at the customers and employees, said night manager Leslie Winkler. After he made everyone lie flat on the floor, he held the barrel of his silver handgun to the back of Winkler's head and told her to get the money.
"It was frightening and very degrading," said Winkler, 34. "He didn't have anything to say but the `F word.' I hope they lock him away for a long time."
An employee working at the back of the store called police when she heard the gunman screaming for money. Officers were almost there when the man fled.
Witnesses outside the store saw the gunman running away and told police the direction in which he was headed.
"Without the witnesses who saw him, we probably wouldn't have known where he went," Kirk said.
Officers ordered the man out of the garage, but he stayed in hiding, Kirk said. A Salt Lake County deputy assisting the Salt Lake police sent in a police dog to force the man out.
"He refused to come out," Kirk said. "But with the help of our dogs, we were able to get him out.'
A dog bit the suspect on the right arm before the man gave up. Paramedics took him to Columbia-St. Mark's Hospital for treatment.