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Guard Killed in St. Louis Bank Robbery

From Associated Press

Two men with assault rifles opened fire during a bank robbery Monday, killing a guard and then leading police on a chase that ended with a fiery crash in a park.

One suspect was arrested after the crash but the other escaped, and police were not immediately sure whether they got any money.

FBI agent Wiley Thompson said it could have been a copycat crime because there were similarities to a recent deadly bank robbery attempt in Los Angeles nearly two weeks ago.

“They were two heavily armed men here, possibly with body armor,” he said. “Obviously they came prepared to die if necessary.”

About 25 to 30 people were in the Lindell Bank & Trust when the men carrying AK-47 semiautomatic rifles burst in and shot the armed guard, police said.

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There was no immediate word whether the guard had challenged the robbers or fired any shots. The guard, identified as Richard Heflin, 46, died a short time later at a hospital.

The suspects then fled in a van with officers in pursuit, and crashed into a tree in the city’s Forest Park a few miles away.

The van exploded into flames and one suspect was caught at the scene, while the other escaped through a wooded area of the large urban park, said police spokesman Richard Wilkes.

Jason Toal said he was sitting in the bank parking lot counting nickels he planned to exchange for bills when the gunmen ran out.

“I saw a guy with a mask and shotgun and bag of money coming out of the bank,” Toal told KMOX radio. Toal said he called police on his cellular phone and followed the suspects’ blue van onto a nearby highway before losing them in traffic. He said he didn’t think twice about following them.

“I just thought that it would be right,” he said. “Why should he rob a bank and get away with it when we’re all working hard and trying to get our money?”

In the Los Angeles robbery attempt, two men armed with automatic weapons botched a bank robbery, then turned a suburban street into a war zone by firing at bystanders, police and television helicopters.

Those two robbers were killed and more than a dozen other people were injured. TV cameras captured the shootout from start to finish.

One week ago in Detroit, a man wearing camouflage killed three people at a bank, then ordered everyone else inside to sing the Lord’s Prayer with him before he was killed in a barrage of police gunfire.


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