Security photo made for quick arrest in bank robbery

URBANA — Quick work by police in disseminating a surveillance photo of a bank robber this week led to an arrest only hours after the holdup.

On Wednesday, Lorenzo Cooper, 57, who listed an address in the 400 block of South State Street, Champaign, was charged with a single count of robbery for allegedly robbing the First Midwest Bank at the northeast corner of Prospect and Springfield avenues in Champaign.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Cooper was arrested at Nugent Hall on Gregory Drive in Champaign, where he was employed as a personal assistant to students with disabilities who live in that residence hall. His arrest came at 3:30 p.m., just 6 1/2 hours after he allegedly entered the bank and handed the teller a note demanding that the cash be put in a bank bag. After getting the money the robber left on foot headed north.

Less than two hours after the holdup, police had sent a surveillance picture to The News-Gazette and area television stations.

Champaign police Sgt. Dave Griffet said almost immediately after the photo was posted online he received three calls from University of Illinois employees who identified the person as Cooper. Other calls continued to come to Crimestoppers even after Cooper had been identified, Griffet said.

Police then obtained a warrant for his arrest and found him at work. UI police assisted Champaign in locating Cooper. Police also obtained a search warrant for his home.

"We recovered the clothing we believe was worn during the crime and a handgun. We still have not located any proceeds," said Griffet, who said only that a "large amount" of money was taken.

No handgun was displayed during the robbery, police said.

Griffet said Cooper declined to talk to the police.

Rietz said he has prior convictions from Cook County for unlawful use of weapons by a felon, theft, forgery and arson.

The First Midwest Bank at 812 W. Springfield Ave., C, has been robbed at least three times since 1998, according to The News-Gazette archives.

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allergic to stupid wrote on March 29, 2012 at 8:03 am

So the university employs felons to work with special needs kids? This man would appear to be a dangerous felon at that. How disgusting.

billbtri5 wrote on March 29, 2012 at 10:03 am

yes, our tax money at work....

billbtri5 wrote on March 29, 2012 at 10:03 am

yes, our tax money at work....