Disclaimer: Madeleine Oliver is the executive photo editor for The Tufts Daily. She was not involved in the writing or editing of this article.
An armed man robbed the Middlesex Federal Savings Bank in Davis Square shortly after 10 a.m. today. Police say the suspect remains at large.
As law enforcement officers rushed to the scene, the university sent Tufts students alerts and updates throughout the morning and into the afternoon.
No one was harmed during the robbery.
Patrick Collins, Tufts’ executive director of public relations, told the Daily that no Tufts affiliates were involved in the incident.
Joao Borges, an eye witness inside the bank around 10 a.m., said that the robber walked to the middle of the bank and yelled something along the lines of “stand up” or “hold up” before firing a shot into the air from a small handgun.
“I was afraid someone was going to get killed like that,” he said. “I was shocked for a while. I [have] never seen this type of situation.”
Borges fled the bank, then spotted a Somerville Police Department cruiser and ran to tell the officer that there was a shooting in the bank.
The officer pulled to the curb, jumped out of the car and entered the bank.
“He probably [didn’t] even believe me,” Borges said. “When he got there he found out the real deal.”
Stills from a security camera released by the Somerville Police Department show that after the robber fired into the ceiling, he then pointed his gun at a teller, who gave him cash, which he stuffed in a backpack.
As the Somerville Police officer entered the bank, the robber turned and exchanged fire before escaping out the front and sprinting down College Avenue in the direction of Tufts with the officer in hot pursuit, according to The Boston Globe.
Just up the sidewalk, Dave Powers, a Somerville resident, was on his way to work as a web developer in Kendall Square.
“I saw the suspect fleeing and I could tell he was in pursuit by a police officer, so I was in position to react and had enough time to [intervene], so I did, just hoping to slow him down so he could be apprehended by the officer,” Powers said.
Video from a surveillance camera shows Powers shoving the robber, causing him to drop the backpack which contained the handgun and wads of cash from the bank. The robber himself then bolted away down Winslow Avenue.
Powers was still a little shocked when he spoke to media this afternoon.
“I think I needed to see the video to believe it,” he said.
Jack Connolly, the owner of Wedgwood-Crane & Connolly, an insurance firm a few paces up College Avenue from Middlesex Federal, did not hesitate to call Powers a hero.
“There’s a weapon not in the suspect’s possession, [and that is] keeping the city safe. [The robber] is hiding [under] a porch or in somebody’s garage or somewhere without a gun. We feel very safe about that,” Connolly said.
Powers passes by Connolly’s front window on his way to work almost every day, and the two have become acquainted; Connolly said he was not surprised Powers had intervened.
Trevor Quigley, the manager of Oath Pizza in Davis Square, was opening the restaurant located just across from Middlesex Federal when the robbery took place. He did not know that there had been a robbery until the corporate office called to tell him not to open the restaurant.
“Until there was like 10 [police cars], I did not think there was anything unusual,” Quigley said.
Police response was swift. Police cordoned off Davis Square and its environs as the hunt for the robber began. MBTA service to the Davis Square Station was suspended for a time, and several bus lines were diverted.
Tufts’ shuttle service to Davis was also suspended, according to Collins.
Madeleine Oliver, a sophomore at Tufts, was out for a run this morning just north of Davis Square when a line of six police cruisers sped by her, lights flashing and sirens blaring.
She told the Daily in an electronic message that she decided to head away from Davis Square up College Avenue when another nine police cars shot past headed towards the square.
Oliver did not have her phone, so she was unaware of what was going on further down College Avenue.
“When I found out that I was really close to the robbery I was terrified!” she said. “I had no idea until like 10:30 what happened and that there was a shooter.”
Police officers from Somerville, Cambridge and Arlington flooded Davis Square, followed by K-9 units, two armored cars of heavily armed SWAT officers and FBI agents. A door-to-door hunt for the suspect commenced north of Davis Square but did not turn up the robber, according to the Globe.
By 1 p.m., Massachusetts State Police and Somerville Police had extended the security cordon up to the edge of Tufts at the Powderhouse rotary.
The Tufts University Police Department remained in constant contact with the Somerville Police throughout the day and patrolled the perimeter of campus, according to Collins.
Just after 10 a.m., students received a first Tufts Advisory about “Police Activity” in Davis Square and were told to stay away from the area. More precise details went out in an email sent at 10:38 a.m., which described the robbery and the profile of the suspected robber.
An 11:30 a.m. alert reported that a suspect was in custody, as the police believed that they had apprehended the robber. However, when it became clear that the person they had arrested had no connection to the robbery, police informed the university which in turn updated students in a 12:18 p.m. alert, Collins explained.
At around 12:50 p.m., police removed tape and left the Davis Square vicinity. By 2:30 p.m., a TuftsAlert email announced to students that Davis Square was reopened to regular traffic.
Police continue to search for the suspect.
Max Lalanne contributed to the reporting of this article.