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Bank robber hides in air duct, gets stuck

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Posted at 6:09 PM, Jun 03, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-03 18:09:34-04

After a standoff that lasted more than 10 hours, police in Oak Lawn and the FBI say they arrested a bank robber – after getting him out of a ceiling air duct.

Authorities say the wig-wearing robber was found hours later wedged so tight in an air duct that he had to be cut free.

Police say 38-year-old Charles Estell was located early Sunday. The FBI alleges he robbed a suburban Chicago bank Saturday, confronting bank employees with a gun and stuffing $100,000 in a backpack.

Authorities spent hours looking for him and located him in an air duct next to the bank. He was wearing a wig of dreadlocks.

CBS Station WBBM reports the bank robber cut through the roof over the bank – six inches of concrete – to get in.

Michael Kaufmann, division chief of the Oak Lawn Police, said the robber dropped down into a secure area of the Bank of America, tied up two employees, and left through the roof with a duffel bag of cash.

Then, Kaufmann said, the robber ran to the roof over a nearby office to hide from police. “He broke a window to get access to one of the offices, and when he broke the window he cut his hand.”

Police followed the traces of blood, which led them to an air duct, where the suspect was found, stuck.

“He couldn’t get out and move,” Kaufman told WBBM. “He was fortunate (that police arrived), because if they’d never found him, he could’ve died in there.”

Kaufmann says the bank robber was freed – and arrested – by about 12:30 this morning, charged with bank robbery.

The criminal complaint says Estell admitted he robbed the bank, but he hasn’t entered a formal plea.

It was immediately unclear if Estell has an attorney. A message left at a listed number wasn’t immediately returned.