Bank robbery ends in chase, crash

Telephone bomb threat preceded crime at South Holland branch
2009-10-02T00:00:00Z Bank robbery ends in chase, crashTimes Staff
October 02, 2009 12:00 am  • 

Police had two suspects in custody Thursday in connection with a bank robbery and high-speed chase that ended in a crash at Ill. 394 and Sauk Trail Road.

Federal bank robbery charges are expected to be filed Friday.

Several shots were fired during the chase by both pursuing police officers and the robbers, but no serious injuries were reported, Chicago FBI Special Agent Ross Rice said.

Authorities said a lone robber armed with a handgun entered First National Bank, 200 W. 162nd St., in South Holland, about 10:30 a.m.

Minutes earlier, a bomb threat had been called in to the bank, Rice said.

He said the robber disarmed a security guard and held bank employees hostage for several minutes while bank cash was placed in a bag he brought with him.

The person fled in a waiting van.

With officers in pursuit, the suspects drove past Culver's restaurant, 170th Street and Torrence Avenue, firing shots along the way, police said.

The chase wound through portions of Lansing, Lynwood, Glenwood and Sauk Village, Lansing police Sgt. Scott Bailey said.

One of the suspects spoke by phone with authorities during the chase, at one point cautioning police to end the pursuit or the suspects would shoot.

The pursuit ended with the suspect's vehicle, a maroon van, crashing in the intersection, hitting both a Sauk Village squad car that was blocking traffic and a recreational vehicle stopped at the light in the far right northbound lane.

"I'm just driving down, sitting here waiting on the light, and we see the squad car block the intersection," said Kenneth Berry, 63, of Monee, the driver of the RV involved in the accident.

Berry said he then saw a maroon van come over the hill in the southbound lanes with about 15 squad cars in pursuit.

"The van hit the squad car and then ran into my motor home," said Berry, who, along with his dog, was on his way to the Flying J truck stop in Gary to fill up with gas. His wife was following in their car.

Berry was not injured in the accident.

Berry said police had their guns drawn on the van after the crash and had one person on the ground in handcuffs.

Police stopped northbound traffic on Ill. 394 between Steger Road and Sauk Trail, and traffic in all other directions was backed up near the crash scene.

Cook County sheriff's police, Illinois State Police and officers from Lansing, South Holland and Crete were on the scene as well as firefighters and ambulance crews from neighboring communities.

Authorities are continuing to search the bank and surrounding areas for any explosive devices, Rice said.

Further details surrounding the bank robbery were not immediately available.

Times staff members Susan Erler, Vanessa Renderman, Lauri Keagle, Christopher Smith, Natalie Battaglia and Jeanette Lach contributed to this report.

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