A robber who opened fire in a Laguna Beach bank during a daring Friday morning holdup was shot at by police before they arrested him as he attempted to make his escape.
Laguna Beach police have not released any information about the holdup or the suspect, but eyewitness accounts paint a dramatic picture of a robber attempting a takeover-style stickup at Citizens Bank, 800 Glenneyre St. He is apparently under arrest and avoided getting shot.
A pile of cash stained with pink dye and scattered shell casings littered the ground in a small alley on Glenneyre Street after police opened fire on the gun-wielding robber. The robber fled after the 11 a.m. stickup.
Sandy Walker, who was in the bank during the holdup, said the robber held a security guard at gunpoint before firing three shots from a handgun into the ceiling. He said he did not want to hurt anyone, Walker said.
Walker thought it was a Halloween prank at first, but she understood the gravity of the situation when the robber opened fire.
“That’s when I knew this wasn’t a joke, this is real,” Walker said.
Walker, who works across the street from bank, said when the gunman herded all the employees into an area in back she took a chance and bolted.
The robber was taking off a black mask and stuffing into his jacket when the dye pack attached to the money exploded, witnesses said. Shortly after, officers opened fire about 10 to 12 times, according to witnesses.
The officers repeatedly ordered the robber to put his weapon down, said Teo Moore, a trainer in the Laguna Health Club near the bank. Then they opened fire.
“They gave him significant opportunity to surrender,” Moore said.
The shooting alarmed neighbors.
Mike, a resident who declined to give his last name, said he heard rounds flying through the trees outside his house. “I actually ducked and got on the ground because there were bullets flying,” he said.
Resident Dan Drewnowski said he heard loud yelling before the shots.
“It was life and death yelling, not where someone was playing,” Drewnowski said.