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Police nab bank suspect

Homeless man evades capture for 90 minutes while police scour south Medford area

A homeless man allegedly robbed a Medford bank, hid out in a garbage bin and left the cash in the trash before being arrested in Bear Creek Park Wednesday afternoon.

It's good guys: 1, bank robber: zero, Medford police Lt. Tim George said.

A robbery was reported at a Washington Mutual branch at 81 E. Stewart Ave. at about 2:50 p.m. A white man with dark hair and several days' growth of facial hair gave a bank teller a note demanding money and acted like he had a gun in his pocket, Medford police Sgt. Roy Skinner said. He was dressed in green rain gear over a yellow sweatshirt.

The robber left the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash and hid in a garbage bin behind Rooster's restaurant at 350 E. Barnett Road. A restaurant employee taking out the trash spotted a man in the garbage bin, Skinner said.

I imagine he dove into that Dumpster when he saw all the blue-and-white cars and police going door to door looking for him, George said.

When police arrived at the restaurant's trash container, the man was gone. They found some green rain gear that matched the description of what the bank robber wore and a stash of cash, Skinner said. Investigators are working with the bank to make sure all of the money has been recovered.

Numerous officers from Medford police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation gathered clues at the bank; interviewed witnesses, including homeless people who knew the suspect; and combed a neighborhood just east of Interstate 5 in search of the robber.

About an hour and a half later, at 4:20 p.m., Medford police arrested Kevin Howard Wyatt, 42, on the bike path in Bear Creek Park, not far from the intersection of Willamette Avenue and 11th Street, Medford police Lt. Mike Moran said. He was charged with second-degree robbery and first-degree theft and lodged in the Jackson County Jail.

He thought he had evaded us, but this was not his day, Moran said. We had a lot of cops in the area.

George praised officers' quick response that enabled them to collect good information from witnesses right after the robbery.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4459, or e-mail