MASON CITY | Two Mason City police officers creeping toward Iowa Heartland Credit Union interrupted what had been an unremarkable workday for Heidi Hockenson on Tuesday.
Hockenson, at her desk at a nearby business, and a colleague watched as the officers slowly approached the credit union.
Then things got interesting.
“We didn’t think anything of it at first,” Hockenson said. “And then we saw the guns.”
One of the Mason City police officers was armed with a rifle. The other was reaching for a handgun in his holster, Hockenson said.
The officers were investigating an armed robbery at the credit union, 1602 S. Monroe Ave.
Police say a 20- to 30-year-old, 6-foot-1 white man brandished a gun while robbing the credit union about 10 a.m. Tuesday.
No arrests had been made as of Wednesday morning.
Police would not say what kind of gun the man showed credit union employees.
“A firearm was brandished,” Mason City Police Lt. Rich Jensen said during a press conference on Tuesday. “I’m not going to talk about what was said during the robbery, for obvious reasons, but a firearm was brandished and money was turned over to the robber.”
He wouldn't say how much money the man took.
No one was hurt.
The state fire marshal's office was called in to investigate an item the man left at the scene, said Mason City Police Lt. Rich Jensen.
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He would not say what the item was or if the man made any threats when he was in the bank.
A police dog sniffed around the exterior of the building. Officers also closed an approximately two-block stretch of South Monroe while experts investigated the item left behind.
Police and other non-fire investigators left the credit union while the item was examined.
The robber was last seen wearing a black ski mask and gloves in a dark, four-door vehicle with no front license plate, police say.
An "attempt to locate" message broadcast on the police scanner said the man was armed with a SKS assault rifle with a drum magazine.
Officers at the scene would not confirm if this was the type of weapon.
Investigators originally believed the robber was driving a late-model black Dodge Charger. They later determined that information to be incorrect and changed the vehicle description to a more generic dark, four-door vehicle with no front license plate.
The suspect should be considered armed and should not be approached, but the community does not need to be afraid, police said.
The last bank robbery in Mason City was at First Citizens National Bank in 2012.
"I think it’s a localized incident," Jensen, the police lieutenant, said of Tuesday's event. "Obviously, bank robberies in our area don’t happen very often, so I wouldn’t worry about visiting your local credit union or bank."
Calls to Iowa Heartland went to an answering machine late Tuesday morning.
The community is asked to contact law enforcement with any information regarding the incident.
Agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were also at the credit union.
— Reporters Ashley Miller and Arian Schuessler contributed to this report.