TEMPE, Ariz. – A bank robbery suspect being chased by police crossed into oncoming traffic and smashed head-on into another car, killing the suspect and an innocent driver, authorities said.
The suspect robbed a Bank of America branch at gunpoint early Wednesday afternoon and crashed 10 miles away after leading police on a chase through several cities east of Phoenix, Tempe police Sgt. Mike Horn said.
Police believe the suspect may have been involved in three other attempted bank robberies in Chandler— on Nov. 20, Nov. 24 and Dec. 3.
The name of the suspect and the other driver killed in the crash were not immediately released by authorities.
Television images showed a dark gray four-door sedan exit the Loop 101 freeway, then speed along the four-lane road past cars that had pulled to the side.
As police cruisers followed, the sedan crossed into the opposing lane and crashed into a white car. The crumpled sedan flipped on its side as the oncoming white car ricocheted backward into the side of the road.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety confirmed that two people were killed, and KNXV-TV 15 reported that the dead were the male drivers of each car.
DPS spokesman Sgt. Tim Mason said that department policy tells officers to pursue violent felons on the run. "We knew from the robbery that this individual had a firearm, was a very significant threat to the community," Mason said.
At times during the chase, officers lost sight of the sedan. Authorities also put out "stop sticks" in a failed attempt to deflate the sedan's tires, Mason said.
"We've done a lot today to try and bring this to a peaceful resolution," Mason said. "Unfortunately, the suspect dictated otherwise."