Bank robber gets 54 years to life

An armed man who robbed a Laguna Beach bank in 2007 has pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 54 years to life in prison, according to authorities.

Michael Edward Sousa, who was on federal probation for a previous bank robbery at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty Oct. 6 to multiple felony charges which included kidnapping and assault with a deadly weapon, Laguna Beach Police Lt. Jason Kravetz wrote in a news release.

Sousa entered the Citizen's Bank on Glenneyre Street on Oct. 19, 2007, wearing a Halloween mask and waving a handgun, Kravetz wrote in a statement. After announcing that he was robbing the bank, he fired a round into the ceiling, discharged another into the vault, and, when the tellers didn't produce the money fast enough, fired a round into the cash drawer, according to Kravetz. He then stuffed cash into his shirt and fled the bank.

"Miraculously, other than some rather shaken-up nerves, there were no major injuries to any of the victims or police officers and all of the stolen cash was recovered at the scene," Kravetz wrote.

Laguna Beach police officers had already been alerted to the robbery by adjacent businesses, and when Sousa left the bank four officers had arrived, with more on the way.

"Sousa almost ran face-to-face into officers arriving on the south side of the bank parking lot," Kravetz wrote.

As Sousa fired multiple rounds at the officers, they returned fire as he fled through the parking area toward St. Ann's Drive, directly into the path of two other officers. At this point, Sousa dropped his gun and was arrested.

Sousa's shots struck a passing car and one round nicked a man who was seated in his car in the parking lot but he was not injured by the bullet, Kravetz wrote.

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