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Three masked gunmen rob Redwood Credit Union in Santa Rosa

Published: Monday, May 20, 2013 at 11:35 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 8:50 a.m.

Wearing black masks and waving handguns, three men burst into a Redwood Credit Union branch Monday morning yelling profanities and ordering everyone to the ground.

“We were standing with the tellers, going to close an account, when all of a sudden this guy comes in, all in black,” followed closely by two others, said Susan Morgan, who was there with her husband.

“Your mind tells you 'you've got to be kidding. This can't be real,'” said Morgan.

But it got real very quickly, said her husband, Hans van Boldrik. “He had (the gun) high in the air.”

“'This is a bank robbery. Get the f--- down,'” one robber repeatedly yelled, Morgan said. “We got down.”

About 15 staff and 10 customers were inside the branch at 2763 Fourth St. during the 10:15 a.m. robbery. None were injured.

The robbers spent about five minutes in the branch, escaping with an undisclosed amount of cash. They left the east Santa Rosa shopping center in a van, which had been stolen earlier Monday in Vallejo, said Santa Rosa police Sgt. Clay Van Artsdalen.

They abandoned the van nearby on Grahn Drive. At least one witness in the residential neighborhood told officers they saw the suspects jump into two cars, one a silver-colored sedan, Sgt. Dave Linscomb said.

Detectives didn't have many details about the description of the robbers or their vehicles, he said.

Credit union officials are grateful no one was hurt, said Robin McKenzie, Redwood Credit Union vice president.

“We'll do everything we can to support their (police) efforts and ensure the perpetrators are caught,” said McKenzie, who declined to reveal how much money was stolen.

Morgan and van Boldrik, former Santa Rosa residents, had returned to town to close an old account at the credit union and conduct other business.

As they arrived at the Fourth Street shopping center Monday, they were deciding whether to close the account first or get a mocha.

They made the wrong choice, said van Boldrik, choosing to start with the banking.

The couple praised branch employees, who followed the robbers' instructions during the tense situation. One robber vaulted over the teller counter and ordered the workers to open up drawers and get the money out.

“They were yelling the whole time. 'Hurry up, Let's go,'” said Morgan.

The robbers threatened customers at least once, yelling at them to stay down so no one would get hurt.

“I was laying on top of my purse,” Morgan said, hoping to keep it but ready to hand it over if ordered.

“I was thinking they would go for our wallets and stuff,” said van Boldrik.

The three men were still yelling as they headed out, including what sounded to Morgan like gang boasts.

Investigators had not determined if the robbery was gang-related, Linscomb said. “They made some commands, said something on the way out. It may have been gang-related.”

With the robbers gone, some victims, including Morgan, sobbed with relief.

“The bank people jumped into action. They locked the door, got chairs and water for everyone. They were calming down everybody,” Morgan said.

The branch remained closed as detectives inside interviewed customers and employees.

The anxious parents of one young teller waited outside for their daughter. The dad, who declined to give his name, said she called after the robbery to let her parents know she was all right, but said it had been very frightening.

“She said some guys came in yelling really loudly. They had guns and jumped over the counter,” he said. “It's crazy.”

As Morgan and van Boldrik were leaving the center, mochas in hand, they said they were going to resume their day of errands.

“I'm thankful, grateful,” said Morgan, relieved it was over and everyone was all right.

“I'm a little twitchy still,” said her husband.

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