A police chase that began in the Santa Clarity Valley with an armed bank robbery ended at a South L.A. intersection late Wednesday morning with two men being arrested by L.A. County sheriff's deputies.
Throughout the pursuit, the suspects threw cash out of the windows, causing bystanders to run and try to collect the stolen money.
The chase culminated at the intersection of Vernon and Kansas avenues, where deputies pulled two men out of the car and arrested them. Two additional men had taken part in the robbery but had bailed out of the vehicle in the Sylmar area of the San Fernando Valley.
A large crowd began to form around the officers and the suspects' car through the arrests and after the suspects had been driven away. LAPD Captain Jorge Rodriguez of Newton Division said he dispatched between 10 to 15 of his officers to the scene for crowd control and was himself present.
Rodriguez didn't get the impression that it was a malicious crowd.
"What happened here was that the suspects was throwing money out the window," he said. Once South L.A. residents realized the chase was going to come through their neighborhoods, they went outside to see the chase and – most of all – to try and get some of the money.
So many people gathered that law enforcement formed a skirmish line to "control the chaos," said Rodriguez. "At a time like that, with the money, they don't listen to what you're trying to say," he explained.
The "mostly cooperative" crowd that amassed eventually dispersed without any arrests besides the two bank robbers, said Rodriguez, although he added there were a few folks that required "some explanation" about why they couldn't linger.
"Here's the danger," said Rodriguez. "I know people are usually intrigued by this kind of incident and everybody wants to come out and see…but it's really dangerous."
He pointed to last night's car chase that ended in a shootout in Downtown L.A., saying that anyone who'd been in the vicinity "could have been a victim of gunfire."
For this particular chase, with two armed suspects in a car that had just robbed a bank at gunpoint, said Rodriguez, "you can image the amount of people that would have been injured" had they started a gunfight.
Oh, and one more thing.
"Anybody who picked up that money, please return it to your local police station," said Rodriguez. "That money is serialized; that money is evidence of a crime."