The quick thinking and response of a UPS driver turned into an essential lead that ended with the arrest of four men charged with a Coral Springs bank robbery. The UPS driver’s attention was captured when he noticed two men hurriedly rush out of a Nissan Sentra, leaving the doors open, and jump into a Silver Dodge Charger driven by a third man. Wary of the men’s actions, the driver called 911 and reported what he felt to be suspicious activity.
The police were already looking for a vehicle that fit that description as the getaway car of the robbery of a SunTrust bank that took place around 10 am that morning. The bank is located at 9501 Wiles Road in Coral Springs.
In addition to the UPS driver, other members of the public are being praised for helping police and FBI agents for their part in the apprehension of the suspects.
The manager of the bank was on the phone with a customer when two armed men rushed into the bank. One of the men pointed a gun at a teller’s head, demanding money. The teller gave the suspects in excess of $20,000.00 before they ran out of the bank to the awaiting Nissan Sentra. As this was unfolding, the manager told the customer on the phone that the bank was being robbed. The customer immediately hung up the phone and called 911.
“We got the customer’s call before the silent alarm came in to our agency,” Coral Springs Police Sgt. Carla Mertes said. She went on to comment: “One of our officers spotted the car on the Sawgrass and started chasing it to Miami.”
The police then chased the car south on the Sawgrass Expressway and then Interstate 75. According to the F.B.I. who assisted in the pursuit, the suspects then exited east onto Gratigny Parkway in Miami where it crashed into two vehicles near the N.W. 32nd Ave. exit.
One of the individuals in the crash was Derek Mendez, 33, of Hialeah. Ironically, he was driving to a Crime Scene Investigation course at Miami Dade College when he became entangled in the midst of a crime scene investigation. A veteran of the war in Iraq, Mendez suffered injuries to his neck, back and elbow when his car was rear-ended by the suspects’ vehicle. “It freaked me out a little bit but it could have been worse,” Mendez said. “They could have had a gun and start shooting and I could have been in the middle of that.” Mendez went on to say: “I remember some guys getting out of the car and fleeing from the scene. They tried to run away and tried to jump a fence and I saw the cops grab them.
The F.B.I. said that at least three of the four men were suspected in five other bank robberies in Broward County.
In total, four men were arrested for the crime. Gregory Richardson, 34, and Edward Rogers, 40, are accused of robbing the bank. Carlos Jenkins, 24, is accused of driving the two cars used in their escape. Quinton Johnson, 29, is the owner of the Charger; although he claimed at the time of his arrest that it was stolen prior to the crime.
Coral Springs police spokesman Joseph McHugh said that the call from the UPS driver was crucial. “Without that call, we would have been looking for the vehicle they were driving when they left the bank,” he said.
The four men who are now accused of planning and robbing the bank appeared in Fort Lauderdale federal court on Thursday morning. Quinton Johnson who originally reported his car stolen 15 minutes after the robbery then allegedly changed his story and said that he loaned his Dodge Charger to Carlos Jenkins. Johnson then admitted driving his friends to the bank the night before, but denied any participation in the robbery. The four men will be back in court next week when a judge will decide if they will be eligible for bail.
Numerous agencies assisted in the pursuit through Broward and Dade counties, comprising police from Coral Springs, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, Miami Dade, Hialeah, Miramar, Miami Gardens, Opa-locka, as well as the FBI.
Bank robbery is a Federal crime in the United States. A conviction of committing a bank robbery while using force or being armed with weapons can net severe penalties of incarceration including up to life imprisonment. For these reasons, it is crucial that if one is charged with bank robbery or any Federal charge to immediately contact a reputable attorney, with experience in this field to properly defend the case.
Under the provisions of the bail reform act a Federal Magistrate Judge will determine whether any of the suspects will be eligible for a bond at their detention hearing. The Federal Magistrate Judge will determine if the defendants are either danger to the community or flight risks before making this determination. It is important therefor in such situations to retain a lawyer who is familiar with federal bail requirements for this purpose.
Mr. Cohen is a board certified criminal trial lawyer. He is rated AV by Martindale Hubbel (pre-eminent) and a “Super Lawyer” recognized as being in the top 5% of criminal trial law among lawyers in the state of Florida. The Florida Bar considers him a specialist in his field. Mr. Cohen has tried a multitude of cases throughout his 35 year career. He is a member of both the New York and Florida Bars. He is also admitted to practice law in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the 11th & 2nd Circuit.