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Suspected bank robber nabbed outside of Bishop

March 11, 2011

Charles Leighton

A routine traffic stop outside of Bishop earlier this week led to the arrest of a suspected bank robber wanted by the FBI.
According to California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Dennis Cleland, Charles R. Leighton was arrested Thursday night after being identified as the suspect in a Nevada bank robbery.
Cleland said a CHP officer initiated a stop on the 43-year-old for “a mechanical violation” at about noon Thursday on U.S. 395 near Pine Creek.
During the stop, the officer ran Leighton’s plates through Bishop Police Department dispatch, which reported back that the vehicle’s driver was wanted by the FBI for a bank robbery committed on Feb. 11 in Pahrump.
Cleland said the officer was advised that the subject was “armed and dangerous” and would possibly “shoot it out” with law enforcement, however Leighton was taken into custody without incident.
Cleland said that no weapons were checked into evidence after the arrest, but clothes matching the description given by bank clerks in Pahrump were discovered in the vehicle.
Leighton was transferred to federal custody Thursday night.
Nye County sheriff’s officials reported that a man later identified as Leighton allegedly entered a Smith’s Grocery Store on State Road 160 in Pahrump Feb. 11 and passed a note to an in-store bank teller demanding money. He made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Nye County Sheriff’s Department issued a warrant for Leighton’s arrest, but were unable to locate the Pahrump resident until he was stopped by the CHP this week.
Bank robbery is a federal offense and investigations are turned over to the FBI.
The suspect in a similar robbery at Chase Bank in Bishop on March 17, 2010 is still at large. Authorities have identified Benton resident Steven Wiswell as a suspect, but have been unable to locate him.
Wiswell is suspected of robbing Chase by sliding the teller a note saying he had a gun, even flashing the firearm. He got away with $2,300.
Anyone who may have information about Wiswell’s whereabouts is encouraged to call the Bishop Police Department at (760) 873-5866.

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