Pursuit of suspected robbers 'like in the movies,' eyewitness says
Eyewitnesses who watched a bizarre police pursuit unfold in front of them on the streets of South Los Angeles described a chaotic scene Wednesday that one woman said “was like in the movies.”
Bank robbery suspects Wednesday led authorities from Santa Clarita to South L.A., where they began throwing money out the car, drawing crowds eager to scoop up the cash and culminating in a mob scene when the chase ended.
It was not immediately clear whether the suspects were hurling the money out of their vehicle in an attempt to divert Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies chasing them or as a Robin Hood-like gesture to simply give the money away.
Dozens of officers, many from the Los Angeles Police Department, were called to the intersection of Vernon and Kansas avenues to control the crowds that gathered around police cruisers after the chase ended.
Jose Guebara, 49, lives on Vernon and came to his window when he heard his 23-year-old daughter screaming, “They’re throwing money, they’re throwing money!”
He said the Volvo SUV sped by his house twice and he later watched his residence appear on television several times.
Tonette Wiggins, 50, was on her lunch break when she started watching the high-speed chase on TV. Minutes later, she turned her attention to the street where police cars were whizzing by. She said people on foot hit the street after the cruisers, picking up bills and stuffing them into their pockets.
“I’ve never seen Vernon so crowded,” she said. “It was like in the movies, one of those scenes with people throwing out money.”
Authorities had closed off Vernon Avenue, from Vermont to Kansas. Wiggins said she could not return to the healthcare building where she works for more than an hour.
-- Angel Jennings in South Los Angeles, Andrew Blankstein and Matt Stevens
Photo: In an image from TV video, alleged bank robbers throw cash from the window of their vehicle during a police chase in South L.A. Credit: KTLA