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3 charged in holdup of bank on Elmwood

Buffalo police have charged three Buffalo men with robbing the First Niagara Bank on Elmwood Avenue of $13,000 on Monday. Police also are investigating whether they are connected to other recent bank robberies in the city.

Santinarra M. Sealy, 28, of Harlem Road; Marcus M. Harris, 19, of Kenmore Avenue; and Mario P. Bankston, 23, of Isabelle Street were charged with two counts of felony robbery.

"Excellent police work led to the arrest of three bank robbery suspects," Dennis J. Richards, chief of detectives, said Thursday. "They may be implicated in one or more of the recent rash of robberies, and we're still investigating."

At about 11:30 a.m. Monday, two men -- armed with two guns and wearing ski masks -- entered the bank at 2159 Elmwood, between Hertel and Hinman avenues in North Buffalo.

Police said one of the men jumped over the counter and ordered the tellers to get on the floor as he pointed a black handgun, threatening to use it.

He then forced one teller to empty all the drawers across the teller line.

The second man displayed a handgun in the customer service area, pointing it at several customers, the bank manager and tellers.

The robbers then ran out the bank with a plastic bag containing $13,0000.

The bag contained a dye pack, which later exploded.

Harris is accused of waiting outside during the robbery and being the getaway driver.

The bank also was robbed Jan. 10 and Jan. 25, but the three men have not been charged with those robberies.

Northwest District Detectives Christopher Dates and Deborah Mulhern led the investigation, and at least one of the men reportedly confessed to police.

Officer Shawn Dowell and Mulhern arrested the three men at various times between 5:25 and 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.

e-mail: vthomas@buffnews.com

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