Bank joke lands man in county jail

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A 48-year-old Rollins man has been charged with felony criminal endangerment after he allegedly joked about robbing a Lakeside bank — the same bank where a real robbery occurred in November.

Ross Tetachuk has been in the Flathead County Detention Center since Dec. 1 when his apparently botched attempt at humor caused a lockdown at Glacier Bank on U.S. 93 South.

That’s the same location where a helmeted man displayed a weapon, demanded cash and fled on a motorcycle on Nov. 10.

According to documents filed by the Flathead County Attorney’s Office, Tetachuk entered the bank and said “I’m going to rob you, I have a gun.” He then allegedly reached toward his waistband before later declaring it was prank.

Less-than-amused bank employees told Tetachuk to leave, but he became belligerent and insisted on making a withdrawal first, according to court documents. Bank staffers told Flathead County Sheriff’s Office investigators they feared for their safety and thought Tetachuk could easily have become aggressive toward them.

During the transaction, Tetachuk — who employees believed was intoxicated — allegedly made comments about having served in Iraq as a sniper and told the tellers “they needed to toughen up and not be afraid after being robbed.”

When Tetachuk left, bank employees locked the doors and secured the building, according to court documents.

“It’s just general stupidity,” said Flathead County Sheriff’s Office Undersheriff Pete Wingert, who took the initial report from a Glacier Bank employee. “You don’t go into a bank and joke about a robbery. You don’t make that sort of movement.”

The Sheriff’s Office initially recommended a charge of attempted robbery, but Flathead County Attorney’s Office Administrator Vickie Eggum said the incident did not quite meet the requirements.

She compared the incident with a hypothetical situation in which someone driving in the wrong lane of traffic toward oncoming vehicles could force someone to take evasive maneuvers that potentially could result in harm.

“He did not have a gun, but they were under the impression that he did,” Eggum said.

Tetachuk is being held in county jail with bail set at $16,185.

Felony criminal endangerment is punishable by up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of $50,000.

There have been two bank robberies in south Flathead County since Sept. 24, when another man wearing a motorcycle helmet demanded cash at First Interstate Bank in Bigfork before fleeing on foot.

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