Witnesses help nab suspected bank robber

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PHOENIX – A suspected bank robber is behind bars and police credit several witnesses with helping catch him.

The man walking into the Chase Bank near 59th Avenue and Thomas Road at about 9 a.m. Saturday.

According to police, the suspect handed the teller a note. The teller complied with the instructions in that note. The suspect then ran off. One or two witnesses chased after the Hispanic man.

Officers responded quickly and set up a perimeter. The police helicopter was called in. The crew was able to spot the suspect from the air. He was caught at about 55th Avenue and Avalon Drive, northeast of the bank.

Lt. Jacqui MacConnell of the Maryvale Precinct Phoenix Police Department said there were between 20 and 25 people in the bank, including employees, when the suspect walked in and made his move. Nobody reported seeing a weapon. At this point, investigators have not released any information about the suspect, who is believed to be in his late 30s.

While officers credit the witnesses who came forward to help, they do caution the public against chasing dangerous suspects.

“These are violent crimes,” MacConnell said. “You’re better just to be a very good witness. Get a good look at the person and be able to identify him if he or she is caught.”

The lieutenant said people who witness crimes should pay as much attention as possible to details like the suspect’s clothing and physical features. If a vehicle is involved, try to get a look at the license plate. Witnesses should do everything they can to be helpful to the police short of going after the suspects and putting themselves in harm’s way.

“Let them go,” the lieutenant continued. “Actually chasing after them, you’re taking a pretty good chance that something might happen to you. I would highly recommend people not chasing after suspects involved in situations like this.”

MacConnell said in addition to the witnesses who chased the suspect, several witnesses in the neighborhood called the police to report seeing the suspect jumping fences.

“They saw officers in the neighborhood and were willing to cooperate with our investigation and provide us with additional information,” she said. “Being able to obtain that type of information in any investigation is paramount.”

No injuries were reported in the course of the incident.

The investigation is ongoing.