Crime & Courts

Robbers strike as police look for killer

It may only be a coincidence, but several robberies occurred around Wichita at the same time scores of law enforcement officers were searching for the suspect who shot and mortally wounded Sedgwick County Sheriff's Deputy Brian Etheridge on Monday.

Two or more of the robberies may have been committed by the same suspect, police said.

La Pasadita at 1528 E. Harry was robbed at 2:45 p.m., Patty's Too Clothing at 1406 W. 21st St. was robbed at 3:21 p.m., and Nightcrawlers Bait & Tackle at 2212 N. Market was held up at about 3:30 p.m. —all by a man displaying a knife, police said.

Monday afternoon, four men robbed the Commerce Bank branch at 13th and Woodlawn.

Two men went into the branch bank at 6424 E. 13th St. at 5:14 p.m. and robbed it while a third suspect waited by the door and a fourth served as the getaway driver, authorities said.

While one of the suspects inside the bank displayed a gun, the second suspect jumped over the counter and retrieved money from teller drawers.

FBI spokesman Chuck Pritchett said authorities are hoping to release images from security cameras to assist in the search for the suspects.

The Valero convenience store in the 200 block of South Hillside also was robbed at about 7:15 p.m. Monday by a suspect carrying a handgun.

The 44-year-old clerk told police he came in and asked for two packs of cigarettes, then pulled out the gun when the cash register opened.

Three more robberies involving a man displaying a knife were reported Tuesday morning, and police are looking into whether they may be connected to any of Monday's robberies.