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1 Suspect Killed, 2 Arrested After Loma Linda Bank Heist

A brief police chase ends in a cul-de-sac. The getaway driver, 18, reportedly charges at a sheriff's deputy, who shoots him.

October 21, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

An 18-year-old bank robbery suspect was shot and killed by a San Bernardino County sheriff's deputy Monday morning, minutes after the masked man and two others allegedly burst into a Loma Linda bank and escaped with bundles of money from the vault.

The shooting occurred after the suspects led police on a brief car chase that ended when they drove into a cul-de-sac, then fled on foot. The unarmed suspect who was killed charged a deputy armed with a shotgun, authorities said.

"This was a well-thought-out, well-planned robbery," said Sgt. Gerrit Tesselaar, a sheriff's investigator. "Fortunately, we had some good things happen for us."

Tesselaar said a witness called police during the robbery of the Citibank Financial Center in the 25000 block of Barton Road, which allowed for a quick police response. The suspect who was killed was identified as Thomas Giovone'Da-Brice Jones of Los Angeles.

Within two hours, deputies found and arrested two additional suspects -- Wayne Lee McDaniel, 18, and Adrian Tarver, 28 -- who were allegedly trying to hide in the backyards of homes in the quiet, middle-class neighborhood where many Loma Linda University Medical Center employees live. McDaniel and Tarver are also from Los Angeles, police said.

Investigators say that perhaps another accomplice sat in a stolen Jeep near the bank acting as a lookout.

Three men entered the bank shortly before 9:30 a.m. and ordered an estimated 15 to 20 customers and employees to the floor. The robbers eventually gained access to the vault. The amount of money stolen was undetermined Monday, Tesselaar said. No one inside the bank was injured.

The suspects placed the stolen cash in the car's rear passenger compartment, Tesselaar said, transferring it to two pillowcases.

Tesselaar said McDaniel and Tarver have identified Jones as the driver of the getaway car.

With police in pursuit, the copper-colored Saturn, stolen in Ontario, stopped in the 25500 block of Mandarin Court.

While the other two fled on food, Jones allegedly ran toward the officers.

An unidentified deputy fired her shotgun once, striking Jones in the upper torso. Dressed in a black sweatshirt and baggy blue sweatpants, Jones wore heavy black gloves. Tesselaar said a fallen red beanie near the man's body was used like a ski mask during the heist.

"Officers showed up at my house, went to my backyard, rushed through the playhouse and looked over the fence to see some plant pots knocked over next door, where those [suspects] must have been running through," said Tony Garcia, 18.

"I can't believe it," he said. "Where we live is so safe and nice. People walk their dogs out late at night. Nothing like this ever happens."

Garcia said he briefly chatted with the deputy who shot the suspect.

"She seemed shaken up, and nervous," Garcia said.

In a customary step, the county district attorney's office is expected to investigate the shooting.

In a backyard, investigators found a handgun they believe was the only weapon used in the robbery, based on witness accounts.

Deputies didn't cover the body, leaving neighbors horrified and shocked by the sight.

Maria Walker, who lives in the cul-de-sac, rushed home from lunch to be with her 10-year-old daughter, Brianna, who had heard the gunshot and saw the body. Walker shielded her daughter's eyes as she ushered her through the street, past the body and under police tape to her car.

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