Police shoot 1 of 3 men suspected in bank heists

One of three men suspected of robbing an east Wichita bank Wednesday was shot by a police officer who helped chase the getaway car to a nearby apartment complex, police officials said.

Two other men were arrested at the Village Park at Woodgate apartments at 5400 E. 21st St. Initial reports said the wounded man was shot in the back but did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

Deputy Chief Tom Stolz said the officer fired more than one shot as the suspect was "going for his waistband." Stolz said he did not know whether the wounded man was armed when he was shot.

"Due to the nature of the crime, I think the officer felt in jeopardy," Stolz said. "That suspect is at the hospital in serious but stable condition."

Stolz said the men may have been responsible for several other robberies, the most recent of which occurred Tuesday afternoon at the Carson Bank branch at 4641 E. Douglas.

"We think that these particular robbers have hit us before,'' Stolz said.

Emergency dispatchers said Wednesday's holdup was reported at 10:39 a.m. at the Equity Bank branch at 555 N. Webb, just north of Central.

Police said the three men who entered the bank were armed and escaped with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Shortly before the robbery, Stolz said, east-side officers were asked to look for a blue Chevy Cobalt that had been reported stolen in the area. He said it was one of two stolen cars the robbers used in their attempted getaway.

A Wichita police officer spotted the Cobalt at 10:44 a.m. as it drove west on 21st, Stolz said. A short chase ended when the suspects abandoned the car at the apartment complex, which is on the north side of 21st between Oliver and Woodlawn.

Within minutes, Stolz said, at least a half-dozen officers converged on the scene, which is two miles north and two miles west of the bank. After abandoning the car, he said, the three men ran in different directions.

At 10:51 a.m. —12 minutes after the holdup call — dispatchers received the first report that one of the suspects had been shot. He was taken by ambulance to Wesley Medical Center.

Stolz said the second man was arrested almost immediately as he tried to force his way into an apartment in the complex.

The police SWAT team was called in as officers searched the complex for the third man. He was found more than an hour after the robbery, hiding in one of the apartments.

Stolz said a fourth person was arrested at the complex, but officers don't know whether he is directly involved in the robbery.

Stolz said the FBI was investigating the bank robbery, while the Kansas Bureau of Investigation would investigate the shooting.

Traffic on 21st Street between Oliver and Edgemoor was closed for much of the morning as police searched for the suspect and evidence involved in the case.