While most eyes were fixed on the Volvo SUV during Wednesday's chase in which suspected bank robbed tossed cash through the streets of South LA, investigators say that wasn't the only vehicle used to escape an alleged bank heist in Santa Clarita. Gordon Tokumatsu reports from Monterey Park for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sept. 13, 2012.
Police on Thursday said the Volvo SUV from which two bank robbery suspects tossed cash into the streets of South Los Angeles may have been the second getaway vehicle used after an alleged bank heist in Santa Clarita.
Although the investigation is ongoing, Capt. Mike Parker said Sheriff's Department investigators believe three men held up a Bank of America branch during what they described as a takeover-style robbery, meaning everyone in the bank was aware a robbery was in progress.
They then hopped into a black Honda that was soon abandoned for the Volvo SUV seen winding through South LA streets, money streaming from the rear window.
The Honda was found near the bank, Parker said.
The FBI and the LA County Sheriff's Department are investigating the alleged crime and have until Friday to decide whether to pursue state or federal charges against the men, who are scheduled to be arraigned that day.
The driver was a 29-year-old resident of Carson, and two other suspects were residents of South Los Angeles aged 22 and 26, both of whom were on probation, the Sheriff's Department said. One suspect is still at large.
About $1,500 has been recovered from the money trail left behind during Wednesday's pursuit that started in the Santa Clarita area and ended in South Los Angeles.
Residents scrambled to collect the cash as bills scattered in the street. The recovered money includes cash that people turned in and cash collected by authorities, $1,001 of which was found by a deputy at Vermont Avenue and 43rd Street, according to the LA County Sheriff's Department.
"You have to give it back. You can’t just go spend money that’s not yours," said Sal Reyes, who told NBC4 he felt compelled to turn in the cash he picked up at the end of the pursuit.
Reyes and others told NBC4 they were not immediately aware that the cash was obtained during a bank robbery.
The chase came to an end when the driver of the Volvo SUV was pinned between vehicles, including a heavy duty Ford F-250, at a South LA intersection. Hundreds of people crowded into the intersection as two people inside the Volvo were taken into custody.
"Everybody was just grabbing whatever they could," Reyes said.
Authorities have not disclosed the amount of money taken from the bank in Santa Clarita. Bills were thrown from the Volvo's open windows at least 12 times during the 80-minute pursuit, prompting some bystanders on sidewalks to wave their arms to attract the suspects' attention.
"Kind of like a Robin Hood situation, rob from the rich, give to the poor. Everybody's out to kind of get some of the money," a witness told NBC4.
No injuries were reported at the robbery, said Sgt. Daniel Stanley of the Sheriff's Department in Santa Clarita. Previous reports indicated a weapon was recovered after the pursuit, but authorities said Thursday that was not the case.
An NBC4 viewer called the station to say her son was one of the bank tellers approached by three men. A fourth suspect was waiting in the get-away car, investigators said.
The viewer's son described the men as wearing ski masks and black gloves, and said one of them jumped over the counter and forced three employees to their knees on the floor.
Two subjects exited the vehicle in the Sylmar area. One of the men was taken into custody in Sylmar, two others were apprehended after the pursuit at Vermont Avenue and Kansas Avenue in South LA.
The fourth subject evaded a search in Sylmar.
Police urged people to return any bills -- money can be turned in at police stations. Receiving stolen property can be considered a crime in itself, police said.
The FBI and sheriff's department are investigating the case. The descriptons of the subjects involved in Wednesday's heist are similar to descriptions of robbers involved in previous case.