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Retired officer foils O.C. bank robbery

June 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A would-be bank robber gets much more than he bargained for during a holdup in Mission Viejo in the form of a 5-foot-7-inch-tall female former police officer. Cindy Orel may have retired from the Long Beach Police Department in 2006, but on Saturday her law-enforcement skills were put to use once again when she singlehandedly took down a robbery suspect.

"To be honest, I thought when the woman yelled out he had a gun, I looked at all the people and said, 'I'm going to be sprayed with a bullet,'" said retired Long Beach police officer Orel.

Authorities say the incident happened on Saturday afternoon at a Bank of America located inside of an Albertsons grocery store in Mission Viejo.

Pictures show the suspect walked in and handed a note to the teller demanding money. Orel overheard a robbery was taking place and switched to police mode.

"I'm 128 pounds and I just didn't think, I just reacted," said Orel. "I reacted to 'He's got a gun.'"

A nearby customer grabbed the suspect's arm, then Orel jumped in and put the more than 220-pound suspect in a headlock.

"I was up against the wall on the floor, and I was like, 'Hey, you're done, you're caught, you're not going anywhere,'" said Orel.

Police say within minutes deputies arrived and took the suspect into custody. Orel, a 25-year-veteran of the Long Beach Police Department says she was happy to be in the right place at the right time.

"I think it's in you, it's in your blood," said Orel. "I didn't think about recognition, I just did it."

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