MISSION VIEJO, Calif. – Cyndi Orel worked as a police officer for 25 years and never caught a bank robber. She was apparently saving that hobby for retirement.
The retired Long Beach police officer foiled a bank robbery at a grocery store Saturday when she put a 220-pound bank robber in a chokehold until he passed out. Orel is about 5 feet 7 inches and 128 pounds
"I never caught a bank robber," Orel said Monday at press conference held by the Orange County sheriff's office. "This was pretty exciting just because of the nature. You don't have time to think about it. You just react."
Orel was at the Mission Viejo Albertsons store when a bank employee shouted that a man with a gun was trying to rob the branch. As another shopper scuffled with the robber, Orel put a sleeper hold on him, blocking blood to his brain and making him pass out twice. Later, they discovered the man did not have a gun.
Orel credited the man who helped subdue the robber, but sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino said she was "being modest because if it wasn't for the control hold that she placed on him he would not have been rendered unconscious."
Orel said she learned the move at the police academy 28 years earlier, and only used it a few times during her years on patrol. She retired in 2006 but said she keeps active by running laps and lifting small weights.
Deputies arrested Tony Fennell, 52, of Las Vegas, who they believe committed eight to 10 bank robberies, Amormino said.