A car full of suspected armed bank robbers led police on a high-speed chase after robbing a Bank of America branch in the Santa Clarita, Calif. area Wednesday morning.
Footage from news helicopters showed the suspects driving a black Volvo SUV. They made two stops in the Sylmar area; the first so that two passengers could bail, and the second so that a third passenger could jump out, reports Fox LA.
As the SUV led police on a chase through residential streets in South LA, passengers in the vehicle could be seen throwing cash out of the window several times throughout the pursuit, which lured crowds into the streets in search of cash.
Police vehicles ended the chase near the corner of Vernon and Vermont avenues after trapping the suspects' car.
No injuries were reported from the bank robbery, said Sgt. Daniel Stanley of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to NBC LA.
UPDATE 12:22 p.m. PST: An unidentified 23-year-old resident of the South LA neighborhood called in to NBC LA to express admiration for both the suspects and the police during the pursuit.
"I'm just so glad this person came to throw this money in the 'hood, basically," said the woman. "You usually see robbers and they take their stuff and they leave. But this guy came over and tried to help us out ... So It's more like all of us are supporting the robbers and the cops."
But in a subsequent interview with NBC LA, Sgt. Mike Parker with the LA Sheriff's Department disavowed any notion that the suspects robbed a bank in order to share money with the neighborhood.
"They were robbing a bank to steal and keep that money... I can't imagine they did this for the good of the community."
Instead, said Sgt. Parker, flinging cash out the window was more likely a tactic to draw residents to the streets, distracting the police and putting human blockades between the suspects and the arresting officers.
Indeed, when officers were able to stop the suspects' car and approach the vehicle, at least 100 people had crowded around the scene, heightening the risk to both the police and community members. Eventually, officers took two suspects into custody without incident after the car chase ended.
"If they thought that by throwing money out the window that that would distract us or have people get in the way and block us, they're going to run out of money," said Sgt. Parker. "We're not going to run out of sheriff's deputies and we're not going to run out of helicopters."
Sgt. Parker also brought up the possibility that the money could be marked, and urged community members to return any cash found on the street.
In addition to the two suspects that were arrested at the end of the car chase, one person of interest has been detained from the chase route and there is still an active investigation in the Sylmar area in search of two other suspects who were seen jumping out of the car. The LASD estimates there are either four or five suspects involved in the bank robbery earlier that day, armed with at least one handgun.
Residents in the Sylmar area were advised to stay in their homes and businesses and lock the door.
This story is developing...
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