NEWTON — The first call Newton Police Chief Larry Streeter received after a hold-up this morning at the Merrimac Savings Bank came from his wife.
"Larry, we've just been robbed," Cindy Streeter told her husband, who was out on the road about a mile away and rushed to the bank.
Three employees were inside the bank at 29 S. Main St. when a man who arrived on a mountain bike came inside and handed a note demanding cash just before 9:30 a.m.
One of those employees was the chief's wife — the bank's head teller.
In his 40 years in law enforcement, this is the first time Streeter has shown up at the scene of a crime where his wife was a victim.
Streeter's wife wasn't the one who was handed the note, but the experience was still unnerving for her and her co-workers.
"I was nervous for her, but she's fine. She's a trooper," he said, adding that while no firearm was shown, "it was still a frightening experience."
Employees pushed the panic alarms to alert authorities as soon as the robbery occurred, but Streeter said he got the call from his wife first.
Police from several agencies spent the morning searching for the robber, who fled on a bicycle with an undisclosed amount of cash in envelopes.
He was reportedly wearing glasses, a bright red Patriots cap, a blue sweater, blue jeans, and white sneakers.
The man, believed to be in his mid-30s, left on a green bicycle with yellow forks.
Police searched the area but were unable to find the robber. Investigators plan to release surveillance pictures taken from the bank in hopes the public can help find him.
The robbery forced the Newton Learning Center, a preschool and kindergarten next door, into lockdown to keep kids safe.
Owner Katy Aveni said she didn't hear or see anything at the time of the robbery.
"Obviously I have parents who are worried," she said.