Article by Kelsey O’Connor, Alyvia Covert and Jolene Almendarez. 

ITHACA, N.Y. — Police have identified an Ithaca man they say robbed two banks in Tompkins County within a matter of weeks.

Chaio Slater, 32, is charged with two counts of felony first-degree robbery and is currently in custody at the Tompkins County Jail. He is being held on $100,000 cash bail or $300,000 bond after being arraigned at the Town of Lansing Court Friday night. He is scheduled to appear in court again on Feb. 2.

From left, District Attorney Matthew Van Houten and Ithaca Police Chief Pete Tyler. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice

Ithaca Police Department Chief Pete Tyler said Slater was taken into custody when investigators and the SWAT team initiated a planned traffic stop when Slater was driving north on Route 13 Friday night. Tyler said Slater was taken into custody without incident.

District Attorney Matt Van Houten said Slater doesn’t initially appear to have any prior felonies.

Officials declined to say what kind of evidence, if any, was found in the vehicle or what directly led to the man’s arrest, but they said a multi-agency task force created to solve the crimes was a key element in the investigation.

The task for met for the first time on Jan. 22 and included the Ithaca Police Department, Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department, New York State Police, Cornell University Police Department, Tompkins County District Attorney’s Office, and the FBI.

Tyler said the task force shared information and reallocated efforts to make, not only the arrest of Slater, but the arrest of Curt Rosenfeld, who officials say robbed three convenience stores of the course of several weeks.

Related: Ithaca man arrested in string of recent armed robberies at Shortstop, Byrne Dairy, Mirabito

Sheriff Ken Lansing. Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice

Sheriff Ken Lansing said the string of armed robberies left the community shaken.

“I know that for the last couple weeks…people (have been) reaching out and saying, “When is this going to stop. The community was fearful,” Lansing said.

Tyler agreed, saying, “We have to remember that in each of these robberies on the other side of the counter were civilian employees that had a gun pointed at them in the name of being robbed at gunpoint…The amount of robberies that we had in a very short period of time kind of takes away from the peaceful feel that we like to think that we have here in the city of Ithaca.”

Feature Photo: Police announced the arrest of Chaio Slater in connection with two Tompkins County bank robberies during a news conference Saturday. Left to right: New York State Police Senior Investigator  Rick Haas, FBI Senior Resident Agent Michael DuBois, Cornell University Police Chief Kathy Zoner, Topkins County Sheriff Ken Lansing, Ithaca Police Chief Pete Tyler, District Attorney Matt Van Houten, TCSO Lieutenant  Dan Donahue. Photo by Kelsey O’Connor

Earlier reporting —

ITHACA, N.Y. — Police have arrested a man they say is connected with two bank robberies over the past few weeks — one at a Tompkins Trust Company in Ithaca and the other at CFCU Community Credit Union in Lansing.

The first robbery happened Dec. 5 at the Tompkins Trust Company located 775 South Meadow Street. Bank employees told police that a man entered the building around 4:39 p.m. with a handgun held down to his side. He approached a bank teller demanding the person put money into a white plastic bag he was holding. The bank teller complied and the man fled on foot south behind businesses located on Elmira Road, police said.

Relate — Update: Ithaca police release video of bank robbery suspect

Photo released by IPD of the Tompkins Trust Bank robbery Dec. 5.

The second robbery happened just after 4:30 p.m. Jan. 17 at the CFCU located at 99 Sheraton Drive in Lansing. Witnesses say the suspect entered the credit union and approached employees while displaying a handgun and demanding money. According to reports, the suspect then fled the scene with an undetermined amount of cash. Police say the suspect was last seen running Northeast on Sheraton Drive.

Related —Police search for Lansing bank robbery suspect

A source familiar with the investigation said the man was arrested and arraigned in court last night.

Police have not released the name of the person arrested or what the person is charged with, but more details are expected to be released during a press conference at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Ithaca Police Department headquarters.

Featured image: The Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department released a photo from the CFCU robbery. 

Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.