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Bank robber could be 'Zombie Bandit'

MEDFORD — Police believe the "Zombie Bandit" who robbed more than a dozen banks in the Midwest in the 1990s struck in Medford last week.

Surveillance videos convinced investigators the man who robbed the Liberty Bank on East Barnett Road on Dec. 30 is 67-year-old Alan David Hurwitz, who served prison time for a string of bank robberies throughout the Midwest in the early 1990s.

"He is not the most likely bank robber, but we have seen people fall off the pedestal in the past and resort to crime," Medford police Lt. Tim Doney said.

The robber police believe was Hurwitz entered the Liberty Bank and displayed a handgun. He fled the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash and was last seen heading north through the Winco parking lot.

Hurwitz, who grew up in Detroit, made headlines in 1991 when he went on a robbery spree, hitting 18 banks spread across Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, according to a 2005 profile in Detroit's Metro Times newspaper.

The FBI gave him the moniker the "Zombie Bandit" because of the vacant look on his face during the Midwest robberies.

At one time Hurwitz was a celebrated teacher in Detroit, and has worked as a staff member at Michigan State University.

He also was a member of a task force on school violence, an education director and a deputy director of the Peace Corps in Kenya, according to the Metro Times story.

A serious crack cocaine habit led Hurwitz to a life of crime.

He was arrested in 1992 for the bank robberies and was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, according to the Metro Times.

During those robberies he displayed a .380 semi-automatic pistol.

In the 2005 interview with the Metro Times, Hurwitz said after prison he might move to Northern California to be with his daughters.

Doney said Hurwitz has contacts in Oregon and California, but he declined to elaborate on these relationships.

"He's done a lot of good in his life, but he has been a slave to crack cocaine," Medford police Deputy Chief Tim George said.

Doney acknowledged Hurwitz's life is the stuff of fiction, but he views him as a dangerous criminal who struck fear in the bank tellers he confronted.

"When you're staring down the barrel of a gun, that's real fear," Doney said. "He did cause a lot of trauma to his victims."

In addition to the Medford robbery, police and the FBI have linked Hurwitz to a Dec. 11 bank robbery in San Rafael, Calif.

Anyone with information on Hurwitz's whereabouts should call Medford police detectives at 770-4784.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

Bank robber could be 'Zombie Bandit'