Friday, July 19, 2024

Apartments on Temple Place seen Oct. 13, 2021. (Photo: Marc Levy)

An unarmed bank robber fleeing capture got into a Cambridge apartment building Wednesday before police caught up with him, according to police and scanner reports.

Eric Jones, 40, who identified himself as homeless when taken into custody, was still under investigation Thursday for possible connection with other bank robberies. He matches the description in an attempted robbery earlier Wednesday on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, is being looked at for an East Boston robbery within the past few days and is wanted under a warrant by police in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Cambridge police superintendent Fred Cabral said.

In Cambridge, Jones is accused of an 11:50 a.m, bank robbery at the TD Bank at 1270 Massachusetts Ave., Harvard Square, where a teller triggered a panic button but drew police too late to catch the robber on the scene. Officers were able to track the robber to Central Square, though, finding on Bishop Allen Drive a bag of discarded material – including the surgical-style mask worn in the bank – and a witness who said he’d seen a man jump a fence on Temple Street.

The search focused on the Temple Place Apartments at 5 Temple St., a six-story building with apartments for low- and moderate-income families and individuals; the robber’s trail seemed to dead-end in the building’s parking garage. Police set up a perimeter on surrounding streets to contain the action, Cabral said.

But a capture wouldn’t be so simple: Video showed a man matching the description of the robber taking the elevator up from the parking garage into the building, and it was impossible to tell where the man got off, according to scanner reports.

Police knew the man couldn’t be on the roof, because access was padlocked, but that left several possible floors where the man may have ducked out. Officers began a floor-by-floor search of the building at around 12:15 p.m. They had with them a K9 unit who’d taken a sniff of the bag left on Bishop Allen Drive; local FBI also had an agent on scene, according to scanner reports.

By 12:31 p.m. that floor-by-floor search had to be turned into a door-to-door search, according to scanner reports, and at 12:46 p.m. there was a report that the man may have been found in an apartment on the fourth floor.

Police were able to issue an announcement by 1:17 p.m. that a robbery suspect was in custody.

Because the case is under investigation, police couldn’t offer more detail about the search or arrest, Cabral said. Temple Place managers at the Cambridge Housing Authority weren’t available immediately on Thursday to give more information.