St. Louis’ “Boonie Hat Bandit” caught

Friday, September 19, 2008 | 3:22 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS - After a dozen bank robberies, the well-dressed and elusive man dubbed the "Boonie Hat Bandit" is now in custody, police said Friday.

Donald Keith Giammanco, 44, of Florissant, was arrested moments after a Commerce Bank branch was robbed in south St. Louis County on Thursday. At a news conference on Friday, police said Giammanco admitted to the string of robberies, all of which occurred in the St. Louis area. He was charged with first-degree robbery for four of the crimes, with more charges likely to come.

Seven of the robberies occurred in St. Louis County, five occurred in St. Charles County. Police said Giammanco got away with more than $100,000. No one was hurt in any of the robberies. Police would not discuss if a weapon was used in the crimes.

St. Louis County detective John Bradley said Giammanco seemed almost relieved to be caught.

"He realized there was going to come a time when the police would catch up to him," Bradley said. "He just didn't think it would be yesterday."

The robber earned the nickname "Boonie Hat Bandit" because he twice wore military-style, floppy-brimmed "Boonie" hats during robberies. He wore those hats - or a ballcap, fishing cap, even a cowboy hat - pulled down over his eyes to partly conceal his identity, Bradley said.

The robber often wore suit jackets or other nice clothing to blend in with the crowd at the bank, Bradley said. He chose banks in busy locations, often in shopping districts, so that his car would quickly mesh with other traffic, making it harder for police to sort him out.

In the end, traffic congestion was the bandit's downfall. After robbing the Commerce branch, police immediately arrived in the area. A police helicopter spotted the getaway car - a blue 2000 Mercury Marquis that had also been used in previous robberies.

Fenton officer Chad Deakin was the officer who eventually got to Giammanco. He said the suspect was trying to flee but got caught in traffic on Route 30, near Interstate 270.

At first, Deakin knew only that he had helped capture a bank robbery suspect.

"After everything calmed down a little bit, it sort of dawned on us who the guy might be," he said. "I was just glad everybody was OK and we'd gotten our guy."

Bradley described Giammanco as an out-of-work construction worker who had run into hard times financially. He is divorced, but police would not otherwise elaborate on his family life.


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