Police chase ends in crash, arrests

3 arrested after bank robbery at Sun Trust Bank branch in Coral Springs

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - A police chase following a bank robbery at a Sun Trust Bank branch in Coral Springs ended in a crash on the Gratigny Parkway and three arrests.

The chase began after the robbers hit a Sun Trust Bank at 9501 Wiles Road, according to the FBI.  Two men entered the bank about 10 a.m. Tuesday and demanded money from a teller. 

"Two males entered the bank, one with a crowbar, one with a weapon, a handgun," said Coral Springs Police Chief Tony Pustizzi.

The bank manager was on the phone at the time with a customer and asked the person on the line to call police because they were being robbed. No one was injured during the robbery.

The robbers made off with a black bag of cash and on their way out robbed an approaching customer, said Pustizzi.

Police said the two men then jumped into a car being driven by a third man. They drove a few blocks and ditched the car before jumping into another one.  A UPS driver witnessed the men switch cars and called police.

"Saw a vehicle with a couple guys jump out, leave the car doors open, jump in another vehicle and take off," said Pustizzi.

The FBI says the UPS driver's eyewitness testimony is crucial because it places the robbers both in the stolen Nissan Sentra they used to leave the bank and in the second getaway car they later crashed.

The bank robbers then led police on a chase onto the Sawgrass Expressway, Interstate 75, and the Gratigny Parkway, said police. At least three vehicles were involved in the crash, which happened about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday between 32nd and 36th Avenues.

"There were cops on top of that roof already waiting for them," said Leo Villa, who saw the crash. His car was hit by the bank robbers' car.

Three men were quickly arrested. One suspect was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital for injuries he suffered. A law enforcement officer was also injured.

According to the FBI, the men arrested have robbed at least five other banks in Broward County since May.

"The FBI wants to thank all the local agencies for putting a stop to this one group. They were considered very dangerous, and if they continued on, who knows what would have happened," said FBI agent David Beall.

Coral Springs Police, Miami-Dade Police, Hialeah Police, Miramar Police, Opa-locka Police, the Broward Sheriff's Office, and the FBI were involved in the pursuit. Pustizzi said the quick arrests were a credit to the cooperation of the community and his responding officers.

The Gratigny Parkway reopened about an hour and a half after the crash.

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