Daily Republic file photos by Laura Wehde
One year ago today was one of the strangest and most memorable days I’ve had as a reporter.
The strangeness started about 1:10 p.m. when we heard on our police scanner that a bomb threat had been called in to Walmart. We sent our photographer out to take some pictures, but other than that we weren’t too concerned. There had been bomb threats at Walmart before, and they’d all been pranks. Local authorities had to treat the threat as real, though, and they sent a large force out to sweep the store.
Then, just after 2 p.m., the strangeness escalated. We heard on the scanner that CorTrust bank had been robbed. Immediately, we wondered if the two events were related. It turned out that they were.
We hadn’t heard which CorTrust location was victimized, so we called our photographer and told her to leave Walmart and head for the CorTrust location on Havens. I grabbed a camera and drove to the CorTrust location on North Main.
When I got there, I could see just how effective the robber’s Walmart diversion had been. There were only a couple of authorities on the scene when I arrived — somebody from the Sanborn County Sheriff’s Office and a Mitchell police officer, if I remember correctly. No crime-scene tape had been put up yet. I parked nearby, walked right up to the front door and asked the officer from Sanborn County if he knew what was going on. He didn’t. He’d just been north of Mitchell and had gotten instructions to hurry over to the bank. I got the impression that I could have walked right inside, but I didn’t. More authorities arrived within minutes, and the scene was sealed off.
I spent the rest of the day hanging out at the bank, talking to cops and waiting for the bank employees to be let out of the building. The robber, local resident Kenneth Charles Edward, was arrested within a month for the robbery and the bomb threat. He was later convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison, with parole eligibility as soon as 2016. Authorities never disclosed the amount of money that was stolen.