Bank robbery suspects: Like Robin Hood?
In the wake of a bizarre police chase that unfolded on their South L.A. block, residents on Kansas Avenue were amazed Wednesday afternoon that two robbery suspects had thrown fistfuls of money into their streets.
"It's our neighborhood stimulus package!" joked Diane Dorsey, who was sitting out with her dog in her front yard at the corner of Kansas and Vernon avenues.
"It looked to me like a little celebration," added one of her neighbors, who gave only his first name, Desean. "Kids were smiling like it was Christmas."
Bank robbery suspects Wednesday led authorities from Santa Clarita to South Los Angeles, 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.
Dozens of officers -- many from the Los Angeles Police Department -- were called in to the intersection of Vernon and Kansas avenues to control the crowds gathered around police cruisers where the chase ended.
He saw the black SUV drive twice down Vernon Avenue. By the second time the alleged bank robbers passed, there was a crowd of at least 40 people trailing behind, Desean said. He said one man was struck by a police car as he tried to pick up the bills.
"Can't tell you that," a smiling Desean said after a reporter asked whether he had collected any of the bills.
"But I'll say that it wasn't all hundreds -- there was a mix, twenties and hundreds. And the guy must have ripped off the bands, because the bills were flying everywhere."
Though some residents viewed the money as a Robin Hood-like gesture, police saw the action differently.
LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said he suspects the alleged robbers were trying to a get rid of evidence and block traffic by throwing the money out the window.
“This shows the worst side of human nature," Smith said. "It’s stolen property, and receiving stolen property is a felony. It’s a sad day to see people scrambling in the street for it.”
LAPD Sgt. Rudy Lopez said an officer's foot was run over by the suspect's vehicle. He said a man on a bicycle claims he was run over by a police car during the pursuit. Smith said the man had no visible injuries but complained of pain.
The man was later taken to a nearby hospital, Lopez said.
Two suspects were taken into custody at the scene in South L.A., and another man was arrested in the Sylmar area, though authorties said it was unclear if the Sylmar arrest was related to the incident.
-- Sam Allen, Ruben Vives and Angel Jennings in South Los Angeles