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UPDATE: Canyon Country bank robbery leads to chase

Suspects' vehicle stopped in South Los Angeles; 2 taken into custody

Posted: September 12, 2012 2:32 p.m.
Updated: September 12, 2012 8:07 p.m.

Sheriff's deputies and investigators question witnesses at the entrance of the Bank of America at 19120 Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country this morning.

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At least four individuals held up a Bank of America in Canyon Country on Wednesday, then led deputies on a chase over four freeways into downtown Los Angeles, where they swung onto surface streets and started tossing money out the window as people flocked to their car.

The chase began shortly after 10 a.m. and the black SUV getaway car was finally stopped about 90 minutes later at the intersection of Kansas Street and Vernon Avenue, which was choked with stopped cars and gathered people.

Several hundred people gathered around the deputies during the dangerous moment of arrest. Los Angeles police formed a skirmish lines to move the crowds back.

Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Andrew Smith said it appeared the suspects threw the money in hopes the crowd would slow pursuing police and sheriff’s units.

Helicopters followed the bizarre chase along freeways and into increasingly narrow inner-city streets. A pickup truck driver finally stopped the Volvo SUV at the South Los Angeles intersection.

Two men were arrested at the location, including one wearing a white shirt and tie.

The suspects, at least one of which was armed, held up the Bank of America at Soledad Canyon and Whites Canyon roads about 10 a.m., officials said. The bank branch was closed Wednesday morning following the robbery and witnesses were inside being questioned by deputies.

As the robbers attempted to flee the scene, a retired LAPD officer tried to stop them by backing into their path, but instead hit a mail truck, said postal spokesman Richard Maher.

“The letter carrier pulled out to deliver mail to the bank right at the same time a retired LAPD officer was chasing the bank robbers out of the bank,” said Maher, spokesman for the Los Angeles County office of the United States Postal Service.

The mail was hastily loaded into another truck and delivered as scheduled, he said.

According to initial reports, the robbers abandoned a vehicle, a black Honda Accord, behind a Ross clothing store in the same business center as the bank.

Initial reports indicated four occupants were in a black Volvo SUV as it fled down the 14 freeway, but two got out of the vehicle on I-210 in Sylmar near Yarnell or Hubbard streets, said Deputy Guillermina Saldana of the Sheriff’s Department.

Around 11 a.m., law enforcement canine units were called into the area to help find the suspects who fled on foot.

“One (was) contained in the Sylmar area, and we believe one more is outstanding in the Sylmar area,” Saldana said.

“(The chase) went down the (Interstate) 5, eastbound on the 210, on to the 110 then into South Los Angeles,” Saldana said.

The 90-minute chase hit speeds of 80 mph on the 210, pursuers reported, but speeds slowed into Los Angeles and were reduced further after the driver got onto surface streets near USC, driving through the Exposition Park area and into South Los Angeles.

As occupants tossed money and other objects out of windows, residents approached closer and closer to the vehicle slowed by narrowed streets in apparent hope of collecting some stolen money tossed from it.

A heavy-duty pickup truck made a right turn and blocked the SUV; it was not clear if the driver did so intentionally.
One robber remained at large late Wednesday — one of the two who escaped from the Volvo in Sylmar.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.





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