Botched Bank Robbery
The heist started in Northwest Gainesville, then led officers on a chase through Northwest Alachua County.
According to residents of the West Hills neighborhood north of Newberry Road, coming home from work to police officers and flashing lights was a new experience.
"To see a dog dragging someone out of the bushes was pretty surprising," Jeff Rose said.
That was how officers caught one suspect, Elfram Chappelle, 40, who was hiding in a bush outside Rose's home.
Investigators said Chappelle was one of four men, who attempted to rob the Capital City Bank on Northwest 16th Boulevard at approximately 5:00 p.m. Tuesday; the robbers, however, did not take into account that the bank would be closed and the front doors would be locked.
"Bank employees saw that they were masked and saw one of the men reach into his waistband inferring he had a weapon," Gainesville Police Lt. Keith Kameg explained. "Employees did not let them into the bank."
Kameg said not only was the bank closed, but about 20 units were ready to respond when bank employees called police.
"Day shift was on duty and evening shift was coming to work," Kameg said. "So people just started converging."
Officers quickly spotted the suspects' Mitsubishi Galant and followed it to Northwest 58th Street, where they left the vehicle and attempted to flee on foot. Investigators said the driver may have made a wrong turn leading them into the quiet neighborhood.
"One of the gentlemen actually barricaded himself inside this house and we viewed that as a directed threat," Lt. Will Halvosa recalled. "We went into the house and pulled him out of there. Then we had another subject that was hiding in the bushes over here and he refused to come out and canine actually went in after him."
Police apprehended the other two men as they tried to escape over a fence. Police took three to G.P.D. Headquarters for questioning; the fourth, Chappelle was transported to a local hospital for minor injuries received when the G.P.D. K-9 pulled him from the bushes. Investigators identified another suspect as 18-year-old Ronald Randall. Identities for the other two have not yet been confirmed, but all four are believed to be from St. Cloud, Fla.
After their arrests, Alachua County Sheriff's Deputies took over the investigation of the West Hill's portion of the case. Officers said all four will face charges of attempted armed robbery, but additional charges are pending. Police recovered one loaded weapon.
"We're very fortunate to get all four of them," Halvosa said. "I think it's really a reflection of real good police work."
By Ted Latiak, WCJB TV20 News.
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