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Bank customers tackle robber; 3 people shot

March 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
An armed man and two customers were shot during an attempted bank robbery in Long Beach on Friday.Authorities responded to the Farmers and Merchants Bank on the 2300 block of Bellflower Boulevard at about 10:30 a.m. after an armed man reportedly tried to rob the bank.

Witnesses said the suspect came into the bank and pulled out a gun. Security guards along with at least two customers tackled and eventually subdued the suspect.

"The guy who came in to rob the bank shot two customers and I don't know how they got shot. It happened so fast, I've never been in anything like it in my life," said David Jones, one of the quick-thinking customers who jumped the suspect.

Jones said he was with the branch manager inside the bank when the suspect walked in, dressed "kind of goofy" in a red helmet and a black leather jacket and pants. He said another bank customer jumped on the suspect first, and both the customer and the armed man were shot during the struggle. Another customer was also hit and wounded.

Jones said the shooting was the scariest 10 seconds of his life.

"I just thank God it wasn't me who got shot," he said. "When I pulled the gun away from him, when I jumped on top of him and I realized 'Oh my God, this guy's got another gun.' I thought when I jumped on him, 'Oh what's the big deal man, he only had one gun.' As soon as I looked down and realized he's got two guns and I pulled the other gun away from him, I thought, maybe this wasn't so bright after all."

The attempted robbery and shooting are under investigation by police and the FBI, which indicated the suspect may be connected to a series of bank robberies in Southern California. Authorities believe the suspect may be the so-called "Sports Bike Bandit," who's responsible for seven bank robberies in Long Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, Los Alamitos and Pasadena.

The suspect rode a motorcycle that appears to be wrapped in plastic and matches the same description as the "Sports Bike Bandit."

"There are some consistencies between this and the 'Sports Bike Bandit,'" said FBI Special Agent Christopher Calarco. "The investigation's ongoing, and if there's a link we'll make sure we look at all the possible leads and make that connection if that exists."

The suspect was arrested and taken to a local hospital to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Two customers were also taken to a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

The bank was closed for the remainder of the day.