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Three arrested after armed robbery of bank

Published April 19. 2011 05:00PM

Three Berks County residents were arrested on Monday following a high speed chase for the armed robbery of a branch bank in Schuylkill County.

State police at Schuylkill Haven identified the suspects as Justin Allen Smith, 20, of 325 Miller St., Orlando Luis Veles, 23, of 300 W. Oley St., and Quamaine Irvin Tisdale, 21, of 947 Spruce St., all of Reading.

Troopers said the robbery occurred at the Union Bank & Trust Co. branch office at 300 Pine Brook Place, located along SR61 in West Brunswick Township, just south of Orwigsburg.

Two black males entered the bank about 11:18 a.m. brandishing handguns. One male walked behind the counter to the vault and demanded that it be opened while the second male went to the tellers and had them empty their cash drawers into black trash bags.

Once the drawers and vault were emptied the two made an attempt to remove the surveillance video but were unsuccessful, troopers said. The two then fled through the front door and ran south on SR61 to a waiting vehicle parked in an adjacent property.

Troopers said the two entered a Dodge Avenger that was operated by a third black male. As the two suspects entered the car a woman working in a nearby office noticed them running with the black trash bags and copied down the license plate number on the Dodge.

The car then fled southbound on SR61. The woman supplied the license number to responding officers. Troopers from Schuylkill Haven, while en route, radioed to other barracks and local police of the incident and gave the license plate number and vehicle type.

Troopers from the Hamburg barracks, who had set up along SR61, observed the Dodge pass them. A marked cruiser activated its emergency lights and siren and attempted to stop the Dodge.

The Dodge sped away at a high rate of speed continuing southbound and then entered onto Interstate 78 westbound. The chase continued onto the interstate with speeds reaching 100 miles-per-hour at times. The Dodge was driven in an erratic manner passing other vehicles on both the right and left sides, troopers said.

The car stopped along the north berm near mile marker 20, troopers said. Three black males inside were taken into custody without incident and later identified as Smith, Velez and Tisdale. Troopers said Smith was found to be wearing a ballistic vest.

The three were charged with armed robbery, simple assault, terroistic threats, and recklessly endangering another person and other charges. The three were arraigned by duty District Judge Anthony Kilker, of Shenandoah, who set bail as follows: Smith and Tisdale, $300,000 straight cash each, and Velez $400,00 straight cash.

None could post bail and were committed to the county prison in Pottsville.

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