Bank Workers Lock Selves in Vault During Robbery

Five bank employees locked themselves in the vault Wednesday while SWAT teams searched the bank for an armed robber who had stormed the bank demanding money.

West Covina police and the FBI spent six hours searching Pacific Western National Bank on South Vincent Avenue for the robber without success.

At the same time, authorities closed some surrounding streets, creating jams around West Covina's central shopping area.

The gunman entered the bank shortly before 10 a.m., announced it was a robbery and hurdled the teller counter, pushing five employees toward the vault, police Officer Rudy Lopez said. Three other employees and two customers also were in the bank, Lopez said.

Branch manager Steve Muell, a reserve police officer, called police and fled the building, while five employees locked themselves in the vault for protection.

Heavily armed officers and a dog spent several hours searching the area, including a crawl space, but gave up at 4 p.m. Authorities said the robber escaped with an unspecified amount of cash.

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