Two gunmen robbed a Kenner bank Wednesday but were quickly arrested after a drive-through customer who witnessed the hold-up dialed 911 and gave police updates while following the robbers until their getaway vehicle crashed into a taxicab.
No one was injured and both suspects were in custody within 15 minutes, but not before two dozen officers sealed off a neighborhood and urged alarmed residents to lock their doors.
Police said Timothy Timmons, 27, of Kenner was caught in the 3400 block of Colorado Avenue and Andrew Horne Jr., 23, of LaPlace was found hiding with a gun and wads of cash in a shed behind Ruth Love's house in the 3400 block of California Avenue.
"We had just put a door on the shed to keep raccoons out, but I guess it doesn't work for bank robbers," said Love, 73, who had been working in her garden moments before Horne was arrested. "I'm still dumbfounded by all of this. What if I had gone in the shed while he was in there?"
The robbery began at 10:13 a.m. when two men entered Hancock Bank at 4041 Williams Blvd. One pulled a gun while the other jumped over the counter and demanded money from a teller.
A customer at the drive-through window called 911 after he saw a teller raise her hands as a man pointed a gun at her, Lt. Wayne McInnis said.
As the robbers ran from the bank, a dye pack included with the stolen money exploded, scattering about a dozen red-stained bills on the street. They got in a black sport utility vehicle and sped west on 40th Street then south onto California Avenue, the unidentified customer discreetly following them, McInnis said..The SUV ran a stop sign at West Esplanade Avenue and broadsided an eastbound taxi, pinning it against a utility pole. The robbers jumped out and disappeared into the surrounding neighborhood.
Thanks to the early warning from the bank customer, police began arriving within a minute of the crash and set up roadblocks to contain the suspects in a 12-square-block area, McInnis said.
Timmons was caught two blocks from his own house at 3217 Colorado, police said. He had been arrested at least four times in St. Charles Parish from 2000 to 2003 on charges that include burglary, possession of stolen property and marijuana possession, according to police reports.
Horne, who lives at 1949 Jasper Lane in LaPlace, was arrested in 2000 and 2001 in St. Charles on charges of burglary, shoplifting and marijuana possession.
Andrew Horne Jr.
Information on the resolution of their previous arrests was not immediately unavailable.
McInnis said police were investigating how the suspects acquired the SUV, which is registered to a woman in Gulfport, Miss.
He praised the quick-thinking customer for helping police catch the suspects.
"He played it just right," McInnis said. "He stayed behind at a safe distance and kept us informed of where the robbers were headed."
Cab driver Muhammad Gohir was wearing a seat belt and was not injured. He was on his way to pick up his first fare of the day when the crash occurred.
"I thought it was just an accident at first," Gohir said. "But then I saw two men get out of the other vehicle and run away. After that, the police started coming from everywhere."
Love said she and a neighbor were in her garden inspecting some gourds she grows to make birdhouses when a police officer told them to go inside because a pair of bank robbers were on the loose.
"Needless to say it was a shock when they found one of them in my shed, gun and all," she said. "I'm glad they caught him and took him away, but I wish they would have left a little bit of the money."