Tenino man mistaken for bank robber, handcuffed

TUMWATER — Employees at a Tumwater bank treated a Tenino man like a bank robber last week, tripping an alarm that resulted in police officers drawing guns and handcuffing him after he left the branch of Timberland Bank.

“I thought they were going to shoot me,” said 59-year-old Thomas Budsberg of his ordeal the afternoon of Sept. 16.

Budsberg and a companion were released by police after realizing he had not robbed the bank, and was not a bank robbery suspect, The Olympian reported Thursday.

Timberland Bank CEO Michael Sand said he believes employees did nothing wrong during the encounter. Sand said employees at the bank were on alert for Budsberg, because he had come into the bank in August, took some brochures, and left.

This was considered “odd” behavior on Budsberg’s part, Sand said. Sand said the branch on Trosper Road has been robbed before. “We want to protect our people,” he said.

Bank employees subsequently looked through CrimeStoppers photos of recent bank robbery suspects, and believed that Budsberg resembled one of them, Sand said.

So when Budsberg came to the bank on Sept. 16, he was not allowed inside the bank. Instead, an employee kept the door locked so that he remained in the vestibule, according to a police report. After a teller asked for Budsberg’s identification and wrote his information down, Budsberg had already left.

According to a Tumwater police report, the teller hit a holdup alarm button and called 911. Sand said the alarm had already been tripped as soon as soon as Budsberg had entered the bank’s vestibule.

Budsberg said he and a friend were pulled over in a nearby gas station by several police cars after exiting the bank around 1:30 p.m. Budsberg said he and his friend had guns pointed at them, were handcuffed, and were detained for over an hour.

Tumwater Police Jay Mason said that bank alarms should only be tripped if there is a bank robbery or an employee believes a bank robbery is imminent. Sand disagreed with Mason’s assessment, and said bank alarm buttons can be pressed in other circumstances.

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Information from: The Olympian, http://www.theolympian.com

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