Carjacking victim was actually accomplice in bank robbery, police say

Carjacking victim was actually accomplice in bank robbery, police say
San Bernardino County sheriff's investigators and Corona police on the scene where a man was shot and killed by police after a bank robbery in Corona last week. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

New twists have been revealed in a dramatic bank robbery in Corona last week that ended in a fatal shooting.

The woman whose vehicle was supposedly stolen after the robbery has been arrested and is suspected of being an accomplice to the crime, police say.


It all began about 4 p.m. Wednesday at Pacific Premier Bank at 102 E. 6th St. in Corona. Corona police say Paul Johnson, 59, of Hemet held up the bank at gunpoint, forcing employees into the vault.

Witnesses told investigators that Johnson threatened to kill them if they called police. Investigators said Johnson was carrying a device they now suspect was a police scanner or walkie-talkie.

Police said Johnson took large amounts of cash from the vault -- unknowingly, he also picked up a tracking mechanism that police used to follow him.

An 11-mile car chase ensued, police said. The minivan Johnson was driving also carried a woman.

At San Antonio and Bickmore avenues in Chino, Johnson stopped long enough for the woman to leave the vehicle, according to Corona police. Not long after, the chase ended when Johnson crashed his vehicle.

Police opened fire and Johnson was struck multiple times and pronounced dead at the scene. Few details about the shooting have been released.

Corona police said they discovered a large amount of cash, a handgun and other evidence inside the vehicle.

The woman who got out of the vehicle was identified as 26-year-old Patricia Smith. Initially, authorities said, Smith told officers that she had been carjacked by Johnson.

But after interviewing her, investigators have accused Smith of playing a role in the holdup. She eventually told investigators that Johnson was her stepfather, police said. Investigators have also searched a home they shared in Hemet.

Smith was arrested and booked on suspicion of robbery.

The robbery and the shooting of Johnson remain under investigation, authorities said.

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