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Three held in Nebraska bank robbery

Four employees, one customer killed

bank
A Norfolk police officer and an FBI agent talk through a shot-out door window at the entrance of the U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk, Nebraska.

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Wolf Blitzer talks with Gordon Adams, mayor of Norfolk, Nebraska, about the shootings and three men being held by police (September 26)
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NORFOLK, Nebraska (CNN) -- Authorities said Thursday they plan to file five charges of first-degree murder against three men suspected of holding up a branch of the U.S. Bank in this small rural town Thursday, killing four women and a man.

The suspects were identified as Jose Sandoval, Jorge Galindo and Eric Fernando Vela, said Madison County Attorney Joe Smith.

"I can tell you that these individuals are being focused upon now by our investigation for their potential involvement in this particular matter," Norfolk Police Chief Bill Mizner told reporters.

Authorities said they lifted roadblocks they had set up around the state late Thursday afternoon.

Four bank employees and a customer were pronounced dead at the scene, said Mizner.

He identified them as:

  • Evonne Tuttle, 37, of Stanton
  • Lola Elwood, 43, of Norfolk
  • FACT BOX
    Recent bank robberies involving multiple fatalities:

    September 26, 2002
    Three gunmen rob a U.S. Bank branch in Norfolk, Nebraska, killing five people.
    June 4, 1998
    Three robbers kill two people at the Iberville Savings & Trust Bank in Napoleonville, Louisiana.
    May 19, 1994
    A robber and his getaway car driver are shot dead by police after they kill the vice president of the South County Bank of Ashland in Ashland, Missouri, during a robbery attempt.
    June 16, 1991
    A man kills four bank guards at United Bank of Denver, escaping with nearly $200,000. Called "The Father's Day Massacre," the crime remains unsolved.
    August 28, 1990
    Two people are killed and a third left paralyzed during an attempt to rob the only bank in Pleasant Hill, Ohio.
    June 6, 1986
    Two men rob First National Bank of Bath in East Allen Township, Pennsylvania, of about $2,000, killing three people and wounding two.
    July 16, 1985
    Man kills two in an attempted robbery at Jefferson Savings & Loan Association in Port Arthur, Texas.
    December 14, 1984
    Two men kill four people and wound three in an attempted robbery at the First Bank of Chattanooga in Geronimo, Oklahoma.

    Source: The Associated Press

  • Jo Mausbach, 42, of Humphrey
  • Lisa Bryant, 29, of Norfolk
  • Samuel Sun, 50, of Norfolk
  • Another customer was shot and wounded while walking out of the bank when gunfire blew out the glass doors, Mizner said. That person was treated at a hospital and released, he said.

    At least one bullet shattered a restaurant window next door.

    "I screamed and said, `My God, I think somebody shot the building!'" Donna Schwager, a Burger King cashier who had been working near the window, told The Associated Press. "The good Lord was looking out for me today."

    The suspects will be taken to Madison County, where a bond hearing will be held Friday. Smith said he would ask that they be held without bond.

    Witnesses told police they saw three men running down an alley away from the bank shortly after shots were heard coming from the building, Mizner said.

    The suspects then entered a nearby house and stole the residents' 2003 white Subaru Outback, he said.

    Hours later the vehicle was recovered in Meadow Grove, 16 miles from Norfolk, and police apprehended three suspects in the city of O'Neill, 70 miles from the robbery, Mizner said.

    They were in a pickup truck that was stolen from an area not far from where the Subaru was found, said Norfolk Mayor Gordon Adams.

    "Circumstantially, it would appear we probably have the people," Adams said. "We don't have much in the way of physical description (of the suspects) because they just shot everyone who was there."

    FBI agents, Nebraska State Patrol troopers and Norfolk police officers traveled to O'Neill to question the three men apprehended.

    Terry Teuber, spokeswoman for the Nebraska State Patrol, had initially described the three suspects as "three Hispanic males dressed in dark blue clothing." The three men picked up later generally matched that description, officials said.

    Authorities did not disclose how much money was taken.

    The stolen Subaru was equipped with an OnStar navigation and communication system that police used to locate it, said Cmdr. Brad Rice of the Nebraska State Patrol. It was impounded and was being processed as a crime scene.

    Authorities were planning to review videotapes from bank cameras, though the process is complex, Mizner said. "It may be some time yet before we're able to accomplish that."

    This normally quiet rural farm community of 25,000, northwest of Omaha is the hometown of comedian Johnny Carson.

    "What a sad, sad day," said Gov. Mike Johanns at a news conference.

    He also tried to reassure the Hispanic community after receiving phone calls from people concerned about a backlash.

    "I want to do every thing I can to assure them that they don't have to be concerned. That Nebraskans are very, very reasonable people," the governor said. "I think Nebraskans are anxious to hear the facts."



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