Bank Robbery Scheme Leads to 7 Calif. Arrests
APTOS, Calif. (AP) -- Seven people were arrested after a daring daylight bank robbery that began with a series of bomb threats at local schools and ended with suspects running from police until exhaustion apparently forced them to sit down on a picnic table, prop an assault rifle beside them and wait to be arrested, police said.
The list of suspects, each of whom was booked into the Santa Cruz County jail on $1 million bail, includes a former bank employee who left her job about one week ago, and who is suspected of providing information about the bank's procedures to the rest of the group, according to authorities.
Investigators say the robbery scheme was set in motion Monday morning, when bomb threats apparently meant as diversions were called into two area high schools and a local college.
Three people then entered a Wells Fargo bank branch with weapons, demanded cash and then fled with the money, according to Lt. Roger Wildey of the Santa Cruz County sheriff's office.
But a sheriff's deputy looking for signs of a bomb at the college spotted the bank robbers' getaway car and began following the suspects.
After the suspects abandoned their car, officers chased the group on foot, eventually finding two of the men sitting at a picnic table at the beach, both out of breath. The men had an assault rifle and a backpack filled with money propped beside them, authorities said.
"I think they were pretty exhausted and decided there was nowhere to go," Wildey said. Between the abandoned getaway car and the picnic area, authorities found a second assault rifle and another bag of money.
Investigators later arrested several other suspects, including the former bank employee and her boyfriend, who was allegedly involved in planning the robbery. Another suspect boarded a bus for Los Angeles, but was arrested when the bus stopped in San Luis Obispo.
Police declined to say how much money was taken or how much was recovered.
A bank employee was assaulted during the robbery, and later the suspects allegedly assaulted a passerby during the run from police, authorities said. Details of their injuries were not immediately available.