VAN NUYS — An armored truck messenger foiled a holdup attempt Wednesday when he walked into an ongoing robbery and shot an alleged robber in the leg at a Victory Boulevard bank, police said.
The messenger arrived at the TransWorld Bank shortly before 11 a.m., just minutes after a man armed with a semiautomatic pistol and carrying two floral-print pillow cases began demanding money from bank tellers, authorities said.
"He approached the first teller and pointed the gun at her and said, 'Just fill the bag, don't look suspicious and don't say anything,' " FBI spokesman John Hoos said. The gunman then turned to a second teller and gave a similar order.
Before the second teller could comply, an armored car messenger arrived at the bank for a routine pickup, Hoos said.
The messenger, who was armed, confronted the robber and told him to drop the gun, Los Angeles Police Lt. Ken Lady said. The robber turned and pointed his gun at the messenger, who then fired and hit the robber in the leg, Lady said.
The suspect, Germaine Savannah, 22, suffered a wound to his leg and was taken to the Medical Center of North Hollywood, where he was listed in good condition, Lady said.
Savannah, who sometimes uses the last name "Randall," was arrested on suspicion of armed bank robbery.
"He already had some money in the bag when the messenger came in," Lady said. There were about a dozen employees and no customers inside the bank during the robbery.
The messenger, Luis Perez, an employee of Armored Transport of California Inc., was not injured in the confrontation and is not expected to face criminal charges. "He just got caught trying to do his job," Lady said.
Spokespersons for Armored Transport and TransWorld Bank declined comment.
Hoos said the number of bank robberies has dropped dramatically over the past two years across the region and in the San Fernando Valley.
So far this year, there have been 96 bank robberies in the counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino and San Luis Obispo, Hoos said.
Bank robberies fell 28% last year to 1,200, contrasted with 1,674 robberies the year before, Hoos said.
Of the 1,200 bank robberies committed in 1994, Hoos said, 137 were in the Valley, a 27% decrease from the previous year.