Wicker Park bank robbery: Cash left in alley

May 19, 2011 (CHICAGO)

It happened Thursday morning. The suspects entered the First Merit Bank, 2130 W. North Ave., in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, took money from the teller and fled the scene, dropping money in the street.

It appears the suspects were able to get out of the bank with a sizeable amount of cash. But that's when their luck ran out. Chicago police officers on patrol happened to be close enough to hear the banks alarms -- and sprang into action.

No fewer than four police district stations sit less than two miles away from the First Merit Bank on West North Avenue. The CPD says, around 11 a.m. Thursday morning, three men jumped the teller counters inside, brandished weapons, demanded cash, and escaped into the alley behind the bank. That's where Jessie Webber was walking her dog

"The cop was running after them…and they just kept running after them, and all then other cop cars came around heading in the direction they were heading," sad Webber.

Eventually, three suspects were arrested, but not before at least one of them tried to divert his pursuers by throwing wads of cash at them. The evidence remained on the ground for several hours, watched over by dozens of police officers.

A handgun was also found discarded in the alley. Police sources said it turned out to be a pellet gun.

"I wasn't even alarmed. I was like, 'What's going on?' It's a pretty well trafficked neighborhood. You don't expect that to happen because there's so many cops in the area," said witness Frank Menendez.

Police asked someone inside to identify a suspect they had picked up in the aftermath of the bank robbery. Police say that person turned out to be a minor who was on the run at the same time after stealing a laptop. He is expected to face state charges on that.

For a recent arrival to Wicker Park, it was all rather unreal.

"I think it is probably a one-off," said Kerrie O'Leary. "I've never felt threatened before, so I hope it's a one-off."

The FBI said late Thursday afternoon that two adult suspects are in custody related to the bank robbery. They are expected to be charged with one count each of bank robbery, a federal offense.

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