By Joy Bergmann
A suspect in a spree of five recent bank robberies — four on the Upper West Side — was arrested Thursday morning, Capt. Neil Zuber, commanding officer of the 20th Precinct, told attendees at the 20th’s Community Council meeting held Thursday evening at the New York Historical Society.
“That arrest was made because our NCOs [Neighborhood Coordination Officers] were able to do an extended video canvas and go above and beyond and identify this perpetrator,” said Zuber. “I promised I wouldn’t embarrass anybody, so I’m not going to tell you that it was Officer Jack Etter.”
According to NYPD, Derek Graves, 52, allegedly committed the robberies by passing a note or making a verbal demand to tellers at the following banks:
- March 30, 1:02 pm: Chase Bank at 2824 Broadway (110th); received unspecified funds
- April 1, 1:45 pm: Chase Bank at 3515 Broadway (144th); fled without funds
- April 1, 2:25 pm: Chase Bank at 2099 Broadway (73rd); fled without funds
- April 2, 11:02 am: Capital One at 175 W. 72nd (Amsterdam); fled without funds
- April 2, 11:07 am: Bank of America at 2077 Broadway (72nd); received unspecified funds
Zuber and Etter shared the sleuthing details with WSR following the meeting.
Video footage from the April 1st robbery of Chase at 73rd and Broadway was Etter’s starting point, they said.
Etter then tracked the suspect past video surveillance at Rutgers Church.
The suspect next ducked into the Bloomingdale’s Outlet at 72nd and Broadway, where, according to Zuber, “He goes in and starts shoplifting…and Officer Etter is able to get a very good picture of him.”
WANTED for BANK ROBBERY PATTERN: On several dates in March & April @nypd20pct @nypd24pct @nypd30pct the subject enters the bank & either passes a note or verbally demands money from the teller. Any info call us @ 800-577-TIPS or DM NYPDTips Reward up to $2500. pic.twitter.com/wdb9HwUOWm
— NYPD Crime Stoppers (@NYPDTips) April 3, 2021
Based on that, Etter found other footage nearby that captured the suspect’s distinctive walk. “He was limping,” said Zuber.
Back at the precinct, Etter started hitting the databases, looking at recidivist bank robbers and their old booking pictures. One man seemed to be a strong match.
Etter looked at the man’s most recent arrest record. “It wasn’t for a bank robbery; it was something lower level,” said Zuber. Etter pulled up the body-worn camera footage from that arrest and “noticed the same limp.”
Etter and his colleagues dug in further. Once satisfied they had a prime suspect, Etter sent his information to detectives at the Major Case Squad. “Within a day, they had him positively identified and confirmed that that is definitely him,” said Zuber. With probable cause in hand, a judge issued a search warrant and NYPD were able to make the arrest, “not here in the 20th Precinct, a little bit uptown.”
According to an NYPD spokesman, Graves has at least 24 prior arrests, including two from 2010 for bank robbery or attempted bank robbery in the Upper West Side’s 24th Precinct. Many of the arrests related to “controlled substances,” he said.
WSR reached out to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for information on Graves’s arraignment charges, custody status and lawyer. We will update this story if we hear back.