Costa Mesa police said the three masked gunmen held up a Downey Savings branch at about 9:40 a.m. and took a large amount of cash.
"Three black men entered the bank with weapons, at least one of them was armed. They forced customers in the bank into the vault. They made the customers get down on the floor and proceeded to rob the bank," said Laura Eimiller, FBI.
The men fled in a getaway car that had Washington state license plates.
Costa Mesa police spotted the car and that led to a chase along freeways from Orange into Los Angeles County.
In Los Angeles, the chase continued on surface streets as one of the suspects threw wads of money out the window.
"I seen a black SUV all of a sudden just fly by me at a high rate of speed. Then they were throwing money out of the windows on both sides and everybody was basically running out into the street to get the money. I should have stopped myself, but I know that it was not the right thing to do," said eyewitness Kenneth Metoyer.
The car eventually crashed into a palm tree at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, and the men inside ran away.
"I was over there crossing the street in the crosswalk because the light was green. Then I looked and I saw the SUV driving real fast and there were five police cars driving behind it. I ran back to the sidewalk and they just passed by and then they crashed right over there against the tree. Everybody just hopped out and ran. The police hopped out of their cars with guns and one of them had a rifle," said eyewitness Diva Abdul-Mansour.
Police quickly arrested a Hispanic male who was the suspected getaway driver. Later police took into custody a black male inside the mall.
Police believe that the three remaining suspects are still hiding out in the mall. Customers and employees were locked down for hours and held in place until they could be cleared and released.
"I was shopping and they made us leave and they patted us down. We had to wait in the back over there. They let the women go first. My car is locked in here and I am just waiting until they say we can go back in," said Adolfo Granados, shopper.
Police say that they have confiscated one gun and some cash out of the getaway car.
Eyewitness News reporter Gene Gleeson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.