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Orange County

2 Bank Robbery Suspects Surrender; Another Flees

Crime: Pair give up after barricading themselves in a Huntington Beach apartment several hours.

July 04, 2002|MAI TRAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two bank robbery suspects surrendered to police Wednesday night after barricading themselves in a Huntington Beach apartment for several hours.

A third suspect remained at large.

The standoff prompted the evacuation of about 20 apartments as a SWAT team searched the building, unit by unit.

Sgt. Gary Meza, a spokesman for the Huntington Beach Police Department, said three men held up the First Bank and Trust at Brookhurst and Talbert streets in Fountain Valley about 11:20 a.m.

Witnesses alerted police when they saw two men with guns enter the bank with their heads apparently covered by pantyhose, he said. The third man was in a waiting car, Meza said.

When the robbers fled in the car, a blue Honda Accord or Civic, authorities broadcast an alert. A police helicopter spotted the vehicle northbound on the San Diego Freeway and followed it.

When officers in patrol cars tried to pull the car over, the driver left the freeway and parked on Riverbend Drive, Meza said. The men then forced their way through the front door of a nearby apartment, he said, and several people inside the unit ran out. "We don't know if the suspects live there or what the relationship is with that apartment," Meza said.

The suspects' identities were not released immediately.

*

Times staff writer David Haldane contributed to this report.

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