Violent robbery suspects forced bank employees into vault, shot 2 people while trying to escape

Bank employees forced into vault during robbery

SHERIDAN, Colo. - Police say a group of  masked bank robbers forced several employees into a bank vault, stole a minivan at gunpoint, shot two people and assaulted another, all while trying to evade police.

One suspect is under arrest, but two or three others are still on the loose.

"Some people at the bank said they saw three men enter, others said they saw four," said Lakewood Police Department spokesman Steve Davis.

As many as three SWAT teams and up to ten K-9 units were involved in the search this evening in Sheridan. Police advise residents to be extremely cautious, to keep doors and windows locked and if they're driving in the area, they're being asked not to pick up hitchhikers.

Authorities say the crime spree began at 11:09 a.m. with the robbery of a 1st Bank location near South Kipling Street and West Jewell Avenue. That is where the suspects forced the employees into the vault.

"They left the bank in one vehicle and ditched it on the 3200 block of South Vance Street," Davis said.

Davis told Denver 7 that the suspects took off on foot, made their way to West Eldorado and Pierce and confronted a man who had stepped out of his garage.

"They assaulted that man.  They shot him.  They took his van," Davis said. "I'm told his injuries are not life threatening."

A nearby construction worker said he heard some gunshots, "about 4 or 5, and the next thing we know, there were lots of sirens."

FBI spokeswoman Deb Sherman said agents believe the suspects may be the same ones who wore masks from the movie "Scream" in a violent robbery on September 30.  

A short time later, the suspects ditched minivan, leaving it near the school district's bus barn, adjacent to Sheridan High School.

Neighbor Shawn Chester told Denver 7 that he saw the van drive by on King Street and that there was only one person inside.

"I heard him before I saw him," Chester said.  "His front tire was blown.  It looked like a little minivan and he came flying up King Street."

Chester said there were nearly a dozen police cars in pursuit.

"I flagged the first one and said, 'He's up there. He's up there," Chester said.

Davis said the robbers confronted two men near the bus barn, shot one of them and punched the other.  He said their injuries were not believed to be life-threatening either.  All three victims were taken to an area hospital.

Sheridan residents received an automated call from the police department, describing the suspects as black males. Two of the suspects are bald and a third had his hair in corn rows. One wore a royal blue hoodie and checkered pants, another wore jeans and a maroon shirt and the third wore an orange construction vest. 

 

 

Police spotted a man wearing blue jeans and a maroon shirt walking on the grass just east of the high school this afternoon and ordered him to the ground.   They handcuffed him and then walked him over to a waiting squad car.  They later determined that he was not part of the robbery team.

Sheridan schools enacted lock-out security precautions. District spokesman Mark Stevens said five schools in four buildings -- Sheridan Early Childhood Center, Alice Terry Elementary, Fort Logan Northgate and Sheridan High School -- were placed on lockdown.

When Sheridan resident Sarah Madrid received a call from the district, notifying her about the lockdown, she didn't think it was that big of a deal until she looked out her window and saw more police than she'd ever seen before.

She said she immediately called her son's friend to see if they were okay.

"My first concern was just to make sure he was safe," she said. "So I'm relieved about that, but still nervous that there is still somebody out there."

Students were bused to St. James Presbyterian Church at 3601 W. Belleview Ave. for pickup.  Those who normally walk to school were told they would need a parent or other emergency contact to pick them up.

Sheridan's Library was also closed for the evening. 

Littleton Public Schools said all of their facilities were on secured perimeter, but that has ended. Afternoon preschool and kindergarten sessions across the district were cancelled for Wednesday.

Denver7 is updating this link with additional information as it develops.

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