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Police say Chino bank robber called in bomb threat as diversion

March 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Chino police have released a 911 call they said was designed to be a diversion for a bank robber.

The brazen bank heist Wednesday that ended in gunfire was caught on surveillance video. It shows a gunman wearing body armor walking into the California Bank and Trust on Riverside Drive in Chino.

But just minutes prior to the hold up, Chino police said the suspect or a possible accomplice made a 911 call. In the recording, a man can be heard saying, "OK, I have a bomb a threat over at (inaudible) and there is one at 12th Street (inaudible). This is not a drill. Do you hear me? There is a bomb and I will explode it."

Investigators said they believe the bomb threat was a diversion to lure police to the opposite side of town. The call came from a pay phone near the bank.

"We had officers responding to the bomb threat and we also had other officers responding to various banks throughout the city to conduct safety checks to ensure that those banks weren't being targeted for robbery," said Chino police Chief Miles Pruitt.

It was during a safety check at the California Bank and Trust that a police officer encountered the suspect as he exited the bank with a bag full of cash.

"That individual immediately opened up, began firing at the officer patrol car, striking the patrol car several times," Pruitt said.

The wounded officer managed to drive his bullet-riddled patrol car to the Chino Valley Medical Center for help. That officer is now in stable condition.

The suspect got away with an undisclosed amount of cash, but dropped some of it in the parking lot. Investigators said the dark gray 2009-2011 Nissan Maxima seen speeding away may have had Arizona plates on the front and California plates on the rear of the car.

The FBI said the suspect is considered extremely dangerous.

"This case is particularly significant because anyone that will rob a bank is bad enough, but when you shoot a police officer who is just trying to do his job ? anybody could have been killed that day," said Don Robertson, an FBI agent from the Riverside office.

The officer

Anyone with information was urged to call the Chino Police Department at (909) 628-1234.