EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

June 28, 2013

2 suspects caught 15 minutes after bank robbery

LAWRENCE — Police responded quickly to capture two suspects and recover “a substantial amount of cash” following yesterday’s robbery of the TD Bank branch at 305 So. Broadway at 4:45 p.m. This was the second robbery of the branch this month.

Police charged Juan Muniz, 33, of 275 Water St. and Pablo Ortiz, 38, 5 Pearl St. with armed robbery while masked and disguised. The two were being held overnight at the Lawrence Police Department and were due to be arraigned in Lawrence District Court today.

“This was pretty quick because everything went the way it should,” Lawrence police Chief John Romero said last night. “The officers and the bank personnel did a great job.”

“A lot of things went our way in order to capture these individuals so quickly, and we’re looking at individuals who may be responsible for other bank robberies as well as the one that occurred at the same bank earlier this month,” the chief said.

A man dressed in black and wearing black mask and carrying a silver handgun entered the bank yesterday from rear parking lot. He ordered a teller to “give me the money” while waving the gun, then dashed out of the bank, according to police.

A witness observed the get-away car and provided a description and license plate number of a white Toyota Avalon, giving the police a good head start in their pursuit of the robbers, according to Romero.

“I certainly want to credit that witness who provided the vehicle description as well as the license plate, which was instrumental in the arrest of these individuals,” he said.

Police located the car within minutes in the city’s Tower Hill section, near the reservoir. The suspect stopped the car and jumped out, leading officers on a brief foot chase.

“We apprehended one of the suspects almost immediately, and the second one got caught a short time later. We also recovered a substantial amount of cash,” Romero said.

“Given the MO (modus operandi, or method of operation) of this particular robbery, we’re looking to connect them to the June 3 robbery (of the same bank) as well. We’re also looking at them as suspects in other bank robberies,” he said.

Police were still looking for the gun used in the robbery.

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