COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (WOOD) - A man and woman are in custody following a bank robbery and police chase on several Kent County highways and streets.
Officers were called around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday to the heist at Comerica Bank near Four Mile Road and Alpine Avenue in Comstock Park. The male suspect forced the employees and a customer into the vault, police said. There were reports the victims were tied up, but police cannot confirm that yet. Nobody inside the bank was hurt.
Officers spotted the male suspect fleeing the bank on a bicycle. He then got into a Budget rental truck, which was driven by the female suspect, police said. More officers arrived in the area and a chase with the truck ensued into various communities, including Wyoming, Walker and Grandville.
The suspects threw the money out of the truck, littering Clyde Park Avenue between 36th Street and 44th Street in Wyoming. Some residents helped police pick up the bills on the road.
The pursuit ended in the 1200 block of Grandville Avenue in front of Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Grand Rapids. Officers used spike sticks along the route to help stop the truck, which hit a curb near the school and lost part of a tire. The suspects were then taken into custody.
At least 80 students were outside for recess at the time. The situation in front of the school happened so fast that staff members could not get all of the kids back into the building, and some were in potential danger, officials said.
Many of the students witnessed the situation unfold, including 11-year-old Mary Rodriguez. She was on the soccer field and saw the rental truck swerve and the police cruisers in pursuit.
"I was on the soccer field and the bus, the big truck, was about to hit the fence," she told 24 Hour News 8.
Another witness, Julie Niemcheck, said the truck "couldn't get over the curb, so it banged into the curb. We thought it was going to take the light post out."
What was left of the left front tire ended up on the ground before the truck careened into another curb and kept going.
"The truck went in the back to hide," Rodriguez said. She said she saw the male suspect smiling as he was being arrested.
The school was put on a temporary "Code Red Lockdown." No students were injured.
School officials said an automated call was sent to parents to inform them of what happened. A letter will also be sent home to parents.
The two suspects, identified as Tammy Jo and Adam Jones , were arrested less than an hour after the crime happened, said investigators.
"It doesn't sound like it was planned very well. And most [bank robberies] aren't," said Robert DuHadway, a former Grand Rapids FBI supervisory agent-in-charge.
DuHadway and other experts noted that bank robbery cases are closed more often that cases involving many other crimes.
In addition to key investigative tools, DuHadway, who now serves as chairman of DK Security, said bank robbers often go back and commit more crimes because they don't get as much money as they wanted.
And that increases their chances of being caught.
The retired FBI agent-in-charge said money and drugs often drive bank robbers.
Julie Yunker, director of criminal justice training at Grand Valley State University, said the crime is often about power as well.
"We don't see the kind of emotions that we see with other crimes -- anger, frustration within relationship -- but that ability to be smarter perhaps than everyone else and to make a plan that perhaps no one can solve," Yunker said.
24 Hour News 8's Tony Tagliavia contributed to this report.
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