Honolulu police are searching for two armed suspects who robbed a bank in Salt Lake. The call came from American Savings Bank branch at Salt Lake Shopping Center at 848 Ala Lilikoi St. at around 10:29 a.m.
Police say the two men, armed and masked, had it all planned out, working together as a team as they entered the bank. “The suspect armed with a rifle stood watch at the door, the suspect armed with a pistol approached several tellers, made demands for money,” said Maj. Lester Hite, Honolulu Police Dept.
Police say the robbers ran off with cash, then hopped a fence behind the shopping center and through a residential area. That’s where authorities focused the manhunt.
By 12:30 p.m., SWAT teams were going door-to-door looking for any sign of the men. Teams spread out over several blocks, checking with residents and looking for surveillance cameras that might have videotaped the suspects.
By 2 p.m., authorities determined the suspects were no longer in the vicinity and the search was called off.
Surveillance photos released
HPD and CrimeStoppers released surveillance photos of the two suspects involved.
The first suspect is described as 5-foot-10 to 5-foot-11 and weighs 130-150 lbs. He was wearing a grey hooded jacket, a ski mask and dark long pants.
The second suspect is described as 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-7 and weighs 130 lbs. He was wearing a brown hooded jacket, blue jeans and a red mask.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300 or text “CS808” plus your message to 274637 or CRIMES. CrimeStoppers will pay a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information that leads to the arrest of a suspect.
Schools on lockdown
Aliamanu Elementary and Aliamanu Middle schools are located directly across the street from the bank, so HPD put both schools on lockdown when the robbery occurred.
School officials say parents were contacted and told not to come to the schools, but some parents didn’t want to stay home and wait it out.
“(I’m) very worried, very worried,” said parent Tiffany Carreira. “(My son is) only seven years old and we hear that there’s two armed people on the loose, so we’re concerned.”
“I don’t know if my little girl — I don’t know if she’s freaking out because all of a sudden she’s trapped in her classroom,” said another parent, Nelli Willis.
The lockdown was lifted as soon as authorities called off the search.
As parents took their children home, many were surprised to hear what happened. Children had to stay in their classrooms the whole time, so if they had to go to the bathroom, a trash can had to do.
“I’m okay with them doing that,” said parent Janina Perez. “I understand what happened I would rather them be inside locked down with the teacher safe other than that like you know so I don’t have to worry.”
It’s not often that we hear about two or more people robbing a bank together in Hawaii, but it has happened.
In December 2001, three men robbed Windward Community Federal Credit Union in Kailua. They wore nylon stockings over their heads, pointed shotguns at customers and tellers, and got away with cash.
One of the most infamous bank robberies occurred in July 1999, when Albert Batalona led a four-man robbery at American Savings Bank in Kahala.
The men were armed with semi-automatic weapons and fired dozens of shots at a police officer as they ran off. The officer was not hurt and the men were later caught.
Batalona is serving a life sentence without parole.
Police say in these instances, it’s best to give the robbers what they want.
“This is unusual and again people should be aware of their surroundings,” said Sgt. Kim Buffett of CrimeStoppers. “We don’t want anyone to confront them, especially if they’re armed.”