Armored car guard shoots Lakewood bank robber

A man who tried to rob a busy Lakewood bank Monday didn’t make it through the entryway before an armored car guard shot him in the head, police said.

The wounded man fled the bank in a car driven by a woman, police said.

Police said a man they believe was related to the robbery later showed up at St. Joseph Medical Center and underwent surgery for gunshot wounds. He was expected to survive, police spokesman Chris Lawler said.

The getaway driver remained at large.

The robber walked through the set of double doors about 2 p.m. at the Bank of America in the 9500 block of Bridgeport Way Southwest.

Before he made it out of the breezeway and into the bank, he pointed what appeared to be a gun at the guard, who shot him on the left side of his head and possibly in the leg, Lawler said.

About 30 people were at the bank at the time, Lawler said. No one else was hurt.

The robber trailed blood as he limped to a car waiting outside. The woman driving had to get out and help him into the vehicle before they took off, without any cash, Lawler said.

Lawler said he and two other officers were the first police on the scene after the attempted robbery. When they arrived, people were still on the floor with their hands in the air.

Tauscha Smith, who works at a flower shop across the street from the bank, said she heard what at first sounded like a car crash but which she now thinks must have been the shots fired.

“It kind of sounded like metal crunching,” she said.

Xavier Means lives nearby and was walking across the street on his way to a friend’s house when he heard two or three gunshots. He looked back but didn’t see anything and continued walking.

His mother, who banks at the location and heard about the attempted holdup, was worried about him, he said.

“She called me to see if I was OK,” Means said.

After the shooting police put out a notice to officers and area hospitals to be on the lookout for the getaway vehicle and the man and woman involved.

When the wounded man showed up at St. Joseph Medical Center, officers were sent to the hospital.

Surveillance footage from the hospital showed the vehicle that dropped off the wounded man and left matched the description of the getaway car, Lawler said.

Neither the car nor the woman believed to be driving were found when officers arrived.

Traffic near the bank came to a standstill as people stopped to see what had happened.

Police interviewed those in the bank when the robber showed up.

Some witnesses reported seeing the man who was shot lingering in the parking lot of the bank before the attempted robbery. It wasn’t clear whether he was waiting for the armored car to arrive, or simply preparing to hold up the bank, Lawler said.

Police found a black wig, glasses and a winter hat with pom poms dumped by the front door, he said. Investigators weren’t sure if the man had dropped the items or had been wearing them.

Officers also spoke with the armored car guard about what happened. He said he was at the bank, though Lawler didn’t know if he was making a dropoff or doing a pickup. The driver stayed with the armored car while the guard went inside.

He said that while he was in the bank the robber showed up. He said he shot the man when he pointed what looked like a gun at him.

The guard is an employee of Maryland-based Dunbar, Lawler said. The company could not be reached Monday.

When the investigation is finished, police will forward information about the shooting to prosecutors.

“By all indications, he acted appropriately,” Lawler said.

Police continued Monday to look for the getaway car, which was described as an Acura, dark gray or black, with a sloppily painted white spoiler.

Witnesses said the robber was a black man with an average build and a 1- or 2-inch Afro haircut. He was in his 20s or 30s, between 5 feet 10 and 6 feet and wore a black T-shirt and dark pants.

The woman was described as black, with a medium build and in her 20s. She wore dark-rimmed glasses and had a tight ponytail.

After the aborted holdup, Misty Butler walked over and watched outside the bank for about an hour. She said the people brought out of the business looked very upset.

“I do know a few people who work there,” said Butler, who lives three doors down and banks at the location. “I hope they’re OK. Probably shaken up.”

Butler called the robbery “pretty stupid.”

“Why,” she asked, “would you try to rob a bank where they’re behind glass? Thick glass.”