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Bank robbery chase ends in South L.A. dash for cash

September 12, 2012 |  2:57 pm

A third suspect connected to a bizarre bank robbery and pursuit was arrested Wednesday afternoon in the Sylmar area, authorities said.

Two other suspects had already been taken into custody in South Los Angeles and police were searching for a fourth person.

The suspects, in a Volvo SUV, led authorities on a chase from Santa Clarita to South Los Angeles, where they began throwing money out the vehicle's windows, drawing crowds eager to scoop up the cash and culminating in a mob scene when the chase ended.

PHOTOS: Bank robbery suspects toss money during chase

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 he chase ended.

Police were still investigating what they called the "takeover-style robbery" reported around 10 a.m. at a Santa Clarita Bank of America branch. In addition to the third arrest, police said they were processing evidence from a black Honda discovered in the Santa Clarita Valley that they say was connected to the crime.

LAPD spokesman Sgt. Rudy Lopez said there was plenty of video footage of the chase that will help them identify those people who grabbed money from the street and the suspects' vehicle.

PHOTOS: Only in L.A.

"If they're identified, they will be prosecuted for receiving stolen property," Lopez said, adding that conviction on such a charge, a felony, is punishable by more than a year in prison.

Gary Cabral, 25, was waiting for a bus when he spotted a car whizzing down Vernon Avenue trailed by police cars. Cabral said a man in the SUV had his head and arms out the window and was throwing money to people on the street.

"I saw money flying in the air and I was like, 'Let's go get it,' " Cabral said. 

He and others made a dash for the cash. Gabral managed to grab five $1 bills off the concrete. He said he divided the money between his two nephews.

He said he only wished he had picked up $100 bills rather than $1 bills.

LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said police were asking people to turn the money in to any police station or sheriff’s office and authorities said some had done so.

Meanwhile, all the commotion derailed some residents’ daily routines.

Richard Cervantes was getting ready for school Wednesday morning when his mother told him to hurry up –- there was a police chase going on near the family’s home on Vernon Avenue.

They needed to leave soon, but Cervantes, 19, wasn't quick enough.

"The car came by, and all of a sudden, everyone came outside," Cervantes said. "It was just a circus; you could see everyone on their phone calling people. Even people I know who live like 10 blocks away were over here."

He called his teacher and explained the situation, ultimately leaving for class at downtown's City of Angels High School around 1 p.m.


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-- Andrew Blankstein, Ruben Vives, Angel Jennings and Sam Allen