Michigan man pleads guilty in Stillwater bank robbery case

MINNEAPOLIS — A 66-year-old Cheboygan, Mich, man, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court here to the June robbery of the U.S. Bank branch in Stillwater that forced authorities to close part of the downtown area for hours.

David Michael Tyler pleaded guilty to one count of armed bank robbery. Tyler, who was indicted July 8 by a federal grand jury, entered his plea before U.S. District Chief Judge Michael J. Davis.

In his plea agreement, Tyler admitted that at approximately 9:30 a.m. June 8, he entered the US Bank in downtown Stillwater wearing a fake beard and glasses and carrying a briefcase and backpack. Tyler placed the briefcase on a banker’s desk and showed him what appeared to be a homemade bomb inside. He then gave the banker a note, which demanded $200,000, and threatened to detonate the bomb if his demands were not met.

While the banker placed money into Tyler’s backpack, Tyler admitted to pushing a button on his cell phone, warning the banker that he had 10 minutes before the bomb went off. Tyler then grabbed the bag and fled the bank, leaving the briefcase and purported bomb on the banker’s desk.

Tyler was apprehended a short distance from the bank after Stillwater Police officers witnessed Tyler throwing the backpack into a pickup truck. All of the money was recovered.

Because Tyler stayed at the Lowell Inn the night before the incident, the St. Paul Police Department Bomb Squad was called to search the hotel, Tyler’s vehicle and the bank for explosives. That search prompted the SPD and Washington County Sheriff’s Office to close several blocks of the downtown area for hours until bomb squad personnel determined Tyler’s alleged bomb was a fake and there were not other devices in the pickup or hotel room.

A subsequent investigation showed Tyler owed child support and traveled from Michigan to Minnesota in search of a bank to rob. Tyler allegedly cased banks in Duluth and Forest Lake before spending a week in Stillwater prior to the June 8 robbery.

Tyler faces a potential maximum penalty of 25 years in prison. Davis will determine Tyler’s sentence at a yet-to-be scheduled future hearing. This case is the result of an investigation by the Stillwater and St. Paul Police departments and FBI. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin S. Ueland.