UPDATE: Police shoot bank robbery suspect near mall

Wounds not believed to be life-threatening

By John Branton and Paul Suarez

Published:

Updated: December 1, 2011, 5:35 PM

 
photo An AMR Northwest ambulance leaves the scene with an armed robbery suspect who was shot by police Thursday.

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photoVancouver police put yellow police tape around the front of the Ross Dress for Less store to protect evidence and keep shoppers and motorists away.

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A suspected bank robber was shot and wounded by police Thursday afternoon after an armed robbery at the Vancouver Mall Drive branch of Wells Fargo Bank.

The branch, at 8211 N.E. Vancouver Mall Drive, was robbed about 3:30 p.m. A blond, short-haired man in his mid-20s, wearing jeans and a white hooded sweatshirt with the words “New York,” entered the bank and displayed a handgun. He ordered everyone to leave the bank.

The customers that left the bank and other witnesses immediately reported the robbery to 911 while the suspect was still inside.

"We're getting multiple calls," a 911 dispatcher radioed. "Robbery in progress."

The man left the bank with a bank bag in hand, but police were already on the way, some from nearby.

A few minutes later, Vancouver police located a suspect west of the bank, behind the Ross Dress for Less and Big Lots stores in the Vancouver Village shopping center along Thurston Way. Shots were fired, and an officer radioed for an ambulance for the suspect.

The office fired at least one round and hit the suspect in the hip area, police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said.

The suspect was transported code 3 — with lights and sirens —to a local hospital. His injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.

The officer, whose name was not immediately released, was placed on paid leave, Kapp said. That’s routine after a police-involved shooting.

Police also withheld the suspect's name Thursday night.

‘The guy was an idiot’

In a comment posted on The Columbian’s website, Dani Handley said: “I was in the Wells Fargo when this took place around 3:20. The guy was an idiot didn’t cover his face, didn’t wear gloves. He’s a loser and sure did ruin my freaking day!”

 “You’re not used to hearing somebody yell that. I was looking down the barrel of a gun,” witness Rahma Holly told KGW TV. “He yelled ‘Everybody get the f--- out of here!’ and demanded all of the money in the safe.”

Police tape was stretched around the back and front of nearby Big Lots and Ross Dress For Less stores, behind which the shooting occurred. Photos from KGW-TV’s helicopter showed a police car parked behind the store with a rear window that was broken in two places by what might have been gunshots. Money was seen lying scattered on the ground nearby, along with a greenish bank bag.

Asked whether the suspect fired at the officer, a high-ranking police official said detectives had not yet interviewed the officer, which likely will occur on Friday.

Officers taped off the bank and conducted interviews with employees inside.

As they left the bank, three of them said they could not comment.

As the investigation unfolded, police detained two young men and a young woman who were found in a black Chevrolet Cavalier in the Big Lots parking lot. After they were questioned, the official said they were not believed to be involved with the robbery.

“We think they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and all hell broke loose,” the official said.

Paul Suarez: 360-735-4522 or paul.suarez@columbian.com.(morning shift); John Branton: 360-735-4513 or john.branton@columbian.com (afternoon to night shift).