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12-hour bank robbery standoff

Police arrest 2 after tear gassing duplex

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12-hour bank robbery standoff

A 26-year-old man literally blew out through a roof vent from an attic hiding place to escape gas fumes following an armed bank robbery at Manteca's Bank of America Friday morning.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED September 5, 2009 3:11 a.m.
Two men in their early to mid twenties who allegedly robbed the Bank of America Friday morning at gunpoint were arrested after a 12-hour stand-off from their hiding place in a duplex in the 100 block of South Lincoln Avenue just a block from the scene of the robbery.

The men had entered the bank on Yosemite Avenue shortly before 11 a.m. –  one with a semi-automatic hand gun and the other with a duffle bag, Manteca Police said.  An undetermined amount of cash was taken.

A customer who saw what was happening called police from their cell phone.  Police dispatch put out the bank robbery alarm to all its units. There were two motorcycle officers within half a block of the bank where they were writing traffic tickets.

Officer John Machado headed for the front of the bank, and officer Bill Walmer headed for the rear door.  Women in the beauty shop just off the alley on Lincoln Avenue said they saw the two men running down the alley toward their business.  Another business owner at the Sherman Avenue end of the alley said one man ran by her with gun in hand.

Police were told that shots were fired when the men came out of the bank adding that it couldn’t be confirmed as being factual.

The resident of a home on the south side of the alley said the men and two police officers cut through his yard as they ran back toward Lincoln Avenue and the duplex where they would take refuge.  The two motorcycle officers saw them run down Lincoln and neighbors witnessed them entering the duplex.

45 officers on the scene
Police set up a perimeter around the neighborhood block and called in mutual aid from other departments.  Ripon Police Department was the first to respond with four officers in addition to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, East Bay Park Police, a park ranger from Caswell State Park and the FBI.  In all there were six agencies that responded with some 45 officers on the scene.

Manteca High was put into lockdown. Manteca Unified School District’s emergency notification system sent a mass dialed recorded message to parents advising them of the lockdown, the safety of their children, and where they could be picked up. Parents contacted the Bulletin saying how impressed they were with the schools calm and informative approach.

Manteca community service officers Shaun Ferraro and Barb Hall stood at their posts for hours closing access to local streets.  SHARP officers and members of Manteca’s CERT team were also out in the field taking part in the team effort to apprehend the robbery suspects.

The East Bay Park Police sent a helicopter that hovered over the scene as Manteca High School was ordered locked down.  Officers blocked intersections keeping traffic away from the crime scene.  Two individuals at La Costa Taqueira matching the description of the robbers were taken down by members of the SWAT team along with a car police suspect might be involved.  Occupants of the car were taken out at gunpoint until police could clear them of suspicion.  

Traffic on Moffat Boulevard backed up several blocks because of the police action.

The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office sent its armored car to the standoff knocking down the rear fence off the alley to gain access to the property.  Sgt. Dan Erb put his bomb squad robot into action making use of its camera and listening capabilities.  It was also used to knock out windows to allow officers to gain access.

Officers used a bull horn to call out the suspects and even put a cell phone through a window in an attempt to talk with the men to negotiate their giving themselves up to police.

Officers shoot 17 rounds of tear gas into duplex
The SWAT team, with the cover of the armored “Bearcat” vehicle, shot 17 rounds of gas into the duplex while their officers trained their automatic weapons on all sides of the building.  As the gas was wafting out of the windows a 26-year-old suspect burst through an attic vent at the front of the building.

He had apparently suffered from the gas and desperately needed fresh air.  After he broke through the vent he just laid still for several minutes until he could sit up.  Officers told him to slide off the roof and into the bushes – he declined.  The SWAT members pulled him by a foot into the bushes and put him face down on the grass and put him in handcuffs.

Knowing the other suspect was still inside the building; Sheriff’s deputies left the scene to get more gas canisters which were later shot into the duplex windows.   SWAT team members subsequently donned gas masks and methodically went through both sections of the duplex, room by room, hunting for the outstanding suspect.  They declared the residence to be all clear at about 9 p.m., but they hadn’t been able to check the small attic.

It was shortly before 11 p.m. when Officer Dale Goforth climbed into the access to the attic with his police dog “Gage.”   Within minutes the second suspect made his presence known with screams caused by an attacking police canine – Gage had gotten his man.

The suspect was immediately treated by Manteca medics and transported to San Joaquin County Hospital with dog bites to his face and the effects of being gassed.
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