Officer helps foil bank robbery attempt

July 21, 2009 4:22:23 PM PDT
Two people were caught in the middle of a credit union robbery on Rankin near Aldine Westfield in northeast Harris County. It started as a robbery, but it ended in a crash that left some bystanders shaken.One suspect is in custody, but two suspects are still on the loose. Two innocent people, who unexpectedly got caught in the dramatic ending, are counting their blessings.

It looked like a scene straight from an action movie.

"At first I thought it was just a wreck," said eyewitness Shane Pachica. "As soon as I saw the guy and heard the gunshots I was like, something else might be going on."

Something had been going on. Investigators say three armed men went to rob the First Service Credit Union just after noon. Only once they went inside, their plan came to a screeching halt. That's when they saw an off-duty Sweeney ISD police officer in uniform who was working security.

Captain Paul Cordova with the Harris County Sheriff's office explained, "They were surprised to see him sitting at the desk. Then they drew down on him, told him not to move and then they aborted the robbery. Then they ran out the door."

The off-duty officer fired three shots but no one was hit. Two of the suspects hopped in their SUV, which authorities believe was stolen, and crashed into an Acura Integra as they fled the scene. Pachica and Dennis Valles were heading to work.

"I was in shock," said Valles. "I passed out for 10 or 15 seconds. My buddy said when I came to he was holding my hand saying, 'God is going to take us through this. He's taking care of us.'"

A third suspect, the one who police say served as the lookout was arrested. Investigators say he's wanted in connection with another bank robbery and has an outstanding warrant for attempted capital murder.

"Pretty crazy," said Pachica. "I'd like to say that I helped stop some bank robbers. It's a good life story."

The two suspects who are still on the loose went to carjack someone at a business about half a block from the scene. They took the victim's vehicle at gunpoint, but he was unharmed. Those suspects fled in a light gold 2004 Chevy Monte Carlo with Texas license plates 551-WPF. If you see the suspects, you're asked to call the Harris County Sheriff's Department.

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