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Suspect allegedly held up bank with air pistol; used the stolen cash for money orders

Edward Joseph Lowen

The suspect in last weekend's Akeley bank robbery had weapons at home, but mysteriously used an air pistol purchased 11 days earlier to allegedly commit the heist according to the criminal complaint.

Edward Joseph Lowen, who lives in Hubbard County, was arraigned Friday on three felony charges in connection with the heist.

Public hysteria erupted following the relatively low bail amounts set by District Judge Paul Rasmussen, $75,000 unconditional and $25,000 with conditions.

County Attorney Don Dearstyne had requested $150,000 and $100,000 amounts.

Several residents spoke to the Enterprise and relayed their concerns for public safety if Lowen were able to post bond.

But Lowen, if released on the lower bond, would be subject to several conditions, including surrendering all his weapons, being law abiding and being subject to electric home monitoring.

He admitted in court Friday to being involved in a contentious divorce that resulted in a court instituting an order for protection against him "six or seven years ago," but said he had obeyed it and a criminal records check seems to verify that.

Otherwise he has no violent acts in his past, or none that brought him into contact with law enforcement.

So it may be equally mysterious where the public unease is coming from. Lowen has no local record of threats against any residents.

One person said he was "unpredictable," but then added he kept such a low-key presence, people thought he'd actually moved out of the area until his photo was spotted on bank surveillance tape.

Numerous local tips flooded law enforcement following publication of the photos.

Lowen's lack of a violent past may have been a factor in Rasmussen's decision to set bond; judges don't discuss their rationale with the public. He is a homeowner with ties to the area, which also may have been a factor.

But that absence of a violent past may also be the answer as to why Lowen purchased an air pistol, rather than use one of his own firearms. Nonetheless, the air pistol resembled a semi-automatic weapon.

Investigators, executing a search warrant, did not find the gun, but did dis-cover a "glob of burnt plastic in the driveway" of Lowen's home.

The $2,500 taken in the holdup of First National Bank of Walker's Akeley branch was also not recovered. Several receipts were found for money orders in his home, the criminal complaint states. Lowen told Rasmussen he had been a temporary truck driver who had not worked in "three to four weeks" prior to the robbery.

In court he seemed oblivious to the seriousness of the offenses he was charged with until Rasmussen reminded him. Lowen asked to be allowed to return home.

Other evidence matching the suspect's clothing seen in the bank videotape was seized from Lowen's residence.

He makes a second appearance Monday in Hub-bard County District Court. He requested a court-appointed attorney, saying he could not afford privately retained counsel.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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