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FBI refuses to release records on bank robbery investigation in Joliet

Police on the scene of a robbery at First Midwest Bank on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 in Joliet, Ill.
Police on the scene of a robbery at First Midwest Bank on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019 in Joliet, Ill.

The FBI has refused to release records on a reported bank robbery that led police to the home of a man who was fatally shot by a detective. 

The Herald-News received a letter Thursday from FBI record section chief David Hardy denying a Freedom of Information Act request for records on the bank robbery that supposedly took place Feb. 6 at the First Midwest Bank on West Jefferson Street.

Bruce Carter, 38, of Joliet, was suspected by the FBI and Joliet police of robbing the bank. 

On the same day, Carter was shot four times and killed by Joliet police detective Aaron Bandy, who had gone to Carter’s South Des Plaines Street home as part of the robbery investigation, according to Will County Coroner’s Office coroner reports. 

The Will-Grundy Major Crimes Task Force and the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office has been investigating the fatal shooting.

Hardy wrote that the records were exempt from disclosure because there are “pending or prospective law enforcement proceedings” and the “release of the information could reasonably be expected to interfere” with those proceedings. 

The Herald-News contacted Special Agent Siobhan Johnson about the denial and with questions about the robbery, including why Carter was a suspect, how much money was stolen or recovered, if the suspect was armed and if the investigation was finished. 

Johnson said in an email that the FBI’s response to the FOIA request, as well as the basis for the decision to deny releasing the records, is “explained in detail in your attached letter.” 

“We have no additional information,” she said. 

When asked when any information on the robbery would be released, Johnson said to refer all future inquiries on the robbery to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy.

She then linked to an FBI web page on FOIA requests. 

“If you have an inquiry regarding an unrelated matter in the future, however, please feel free to reach out again,” Johnson said. 

Joliet Police Chief Al Roechner failed to return a call and message Thursday. 

The FBI has repeatedly refused to answer questions on the robbery in the past two months. 

The FBI has not publicly named Carter as a suspect in the robbery but did release photos that showed Carter at the bank.

The FBI listed him as an “unknown bank robber” and then stated he was “captured” after he was killed.

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