Jay Pageler

Jay Pageler appears via video Thursday in Gallatin County Justice Court in connection to a bank robbery.

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A robbery suspect was at Buffalo Wild Wings on 19th Avenue in Bozeman when he saw a bank across the street and decided to try to rob it, court documents say.

Jay Pageler, 45, is charged with felony robbery. The Idaho man appeared via video Thursday in Gallatin County Justice Court before Judge Rick West. West set his bail at $50,000.

On Wednesday around 1 p.m., Bozeman officers responded to Yellowstone Bank on 19th Avenue for a holdup alarm. Dispatchers told officers that a caller reported Pageler went into the bank and handed a teller a “robbery note,” court documents say.

“This is a bank robbery. I want all of your 20’s, 50’s, 100’s out of your main register. Don’t sound alarm till I left. No stalling and paint bombs. You have 90 seconds from now,” the note read, according to charging documents.

A bank employee who dealt with Pageler told police that she tried complying with his demands, but accidentally locked the safe. She said Pageler fled when she told him what happened.

A witness told law enforcement that Pageler left in a silver truck with Idaho plates heading east on Baxter Lane.

An officer driving to the bank saw the truck matching the description and stopped it. Police said in charging documents that Pageler refused to get out of his car and drove away toward Seventh Avenue.

Police chased Pageler throughout the “southeast portion” of Bozeman, eventually getting on Interstate 90 heading east.

The chase went into Park County. Law enforcement there stopped Pageler by using “stop sticks” to deflate his tires. Pageler was taken into custody without further incident.

Police said in charging documents that Pageler admitted robbing the bank. He said he is unemployed and was traveling to Glacier National Park.

Pageler said he was at Buffalo Wild Wings on 19th Avenue when he saw the bank across the street. He told police that he made an appointment at the bank, went there and handed a teller the robbery note, court documents say.

Pageler said he had a gun, but left it in his car during the robbery, court documents say.

He told police he had further intentions of robbing two banks in Billings and a bank in Missoula.

Diane Copeland, attorney for Pageler, said Pageler is a commercial driver who is unemployed and suffers from mental health conditions.

She contested the robbery charge, saying that the suspect never threatened to hurt someone if he didn’t get money. Copeland said he left when the clerk told him that she had accidentally locked the safe.

“In this case, from the (charging documents), it appears there was no weapon. There was not threat of a weapon. There was no threat of force or any action whatsoever,” Copeland said.

Ashley Carroll, prosecutor in the case, read from the charging documents that the clerk was scared after reading Pageler’s note. She said the clerk was also intimidated by Pageler’s size.

“She felt that he was large and intimidating. Also, he was in the commission of a robbery,” Carroll said.

Judge West agreed with Carroll and said a “threat means to menace however communicated.”

If convicted, Pageler could face up to a $50,000 fine and up to 40 years in the Montana State Prison.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or at 406-582-2630.

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