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‘Shootist Bandit’ Robs Mission Viejo Bank

Times Staff Writer

A man with a revolver burst into a branch of First Interstate Bank of California in Mission Viejo on Friday, fired a round into the air and ordered tellers to empty their cash drawers as customers lay on the floor.

No injuries were reported in the 10:50 a.m. robbery at the bank in the 26100 block of La Paz Road. The gunman escaped on foot with an undetermined amount of cash.

FBI agents looking for the gunman said the method of robbery--firing a shot into the ceiling--fits that of a suspect in two other Orange County bank robberies over the past 2 years and a number of others in San Diego County.

The man, described as white, 5-foot-9, medium build and between 25 and 35, has been nicknamed “The Shootist Bandit” by Orange County FBI agents, and “The San Diego Bang Bandit” by San Diego agents.

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No one has been injured in the robberies, but FBI officials fear that someone might be if he continues to fire the weapon.

The robber, wearing a blue baseball cap and a fake mustache and carrying a cloth bag, entered the bank, fired the round into the ceiling from his .38-caliber revolver, and ordered the 30 customers and employees to lie on the ground, said Wylie Cox, FBI supervising agent in Santa Ana.

The gunman then jumped on top of the counter and, in a loud, commanding voice, ordered the tellers to empty their cash drawers as he raced from one window to another, Cox said. He was last seen running north on Chrisanta Drive.

FBI agents are asking for help from anyone who might have seen the man running or getting into a car. Anyone with information should call the FBI at (714) 542-8825 in Santa Ana, or, after hours, at (213) 477-6565 in Los Angeles. Witnesses may also give information on an anonymous FBI hot line, (800) 442-2244.

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