Suffolk and Nassau police captured two suspected bank robbers Wednesday morning after a fast-moving, cross-county pursuit that sparked a school lockdown and ended in Woodbury when the culprits crashed into a police car, officials said.
Both male suspects jumped out of the SUV after the collision at the end of the Seaford/Oyster Bay Expressway at Jericho Turnpike in Woodbury. They ran in separate directions, police said.
Officers chased one of the unidentified suspects into a nearby apartment complex where they eventually took him into custody while other cops took off after the second suspect.
They caught up with him a short time later as he tried to run across the expressway, police said.
“It was kind of crazy because there were a lot of armed police officers here,” said a man who identified himself as a resident of Eagle Rock Apartments at Woodbury where police caught one of the suspects. “The magnitude of the response here was kind of overwhelming.”
The collision and foot pursuits put an end to a chase that began miles away in Wyandanch after the holdup of a Capital One Bank branch in Bay Shore, police said.
Just after 9 a.m. Wednesday, a 911 call came into Suffolk police reporting an armed robbery of the Bay Shore bank with customers inside, said Suffolk Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Sini said.
Suffolk officers responded and located the robbery suspects in Wyandanch after they fled the bank with an unknown amount of cash in a money bag. The suspects silver SUV had Massachusetts license plates, Sini said.
Officers chased the SUV on Bagatelle Road until the suspect’s vehicle entered the westbound Long Island Expressway, Suffolk police said. Suffolk police radioed a request for Nassau cops to join in the pursuit.
Police vehicles from both departments then chased the SUV as it left the LIE and made its way north on the Seaford/Oyster Bay Expressway. When the suspects’ vehicle exited the expressway in Woodbury, a Nassau County Police Highway Patrol vehicle struck the SUV before careening into a utility pole on Jericho Turnpike, police said.
One suspect was transferred to a hospital, officials said, and a Nassau police officer sustained a minor knee injury in the crash. A Suffolk officer also sustained a minor knee injury in the pursuit, officials said. Sini said investigators don’t believe any shots were fired during the chase. Police have not recovered a firearm, officials said.
Suffolk and Nassau officers, a police helicopter and at least one canine unit continued to search the area after the suspects were captured “in an abundance of caution to ensure that they’re no other suspects involved,” Sini said.
In the search, officers swarmed the Eagle Rock Apartments at Woodbury, knocking on doors as helicopters hovered above. The response led to Syosset school lockdowns and road closures for several hours, officials said.
Police soon determined there were no other suspects.
Eli Crozier of Ridgefield, New Jersey, said he recalled seeing police cars race past him on Jericho Turnpike as he headed to a nearby gym. Cops ran into a wooded area near where the SUV and patrol car crashed and then entered the Eagle Rock Apartments at Woodbury.
Crozier said he could see the damaged SUV from across Jericho Turnpike.
“I thought it was pretty interesting that no one was attending to the vehicle, and then we put one and one together and realized that was probably the getaway car,” he said.
With John Valenti
n A 911 call comes into Suffolk police Wednesday morning reporting an armed robbery at about 9:06 a.m. inside a Capital One Bank branch on Sunrise Highway in the Westfield South Shore Mall in Bay Shore.
n Suffolk police officers respond. Police later pick up the getaway silver sports utility vehicle in the Wyandanch area and a pursuit begins at 9:15 a.m.
n Police pursue the SUV north on Bagatelle Road and then west on the Long Island Expressway before requesting Nassau patrol units join the pursuit on the Long Island Expressway at 9:26 a.m.
n The SUV exits the westbound LIE and continues north on the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway before exiting onto Jericho Turnpike in Woodbury.
n At 9:29 a.m., the suspect’s SUV collides with a Nassau County Police Highway Patrol vehicle at Route 135 and Jericho Turnpike, not far from the Eagle Rock Apartments at Woodbury. The suspects flee on foot with officers in pursuit.
n Police pursue one of the suspects into the apartment complex and soon capture him.
n The second suspect is taken into police custody about 200 yards from the scene of the collision as he attempts to cross the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway.