Bystanders thanked for chasing down bank robber

Jan. 17, 2014 at 3:34 PM
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LONDON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A man who pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a London bank robbery was apprehended with the help of multiple bystanders, police said.

Al-Fodday Fofanah, 30, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Woolwich Crown Court to two counts of attempted robbery, two counts of possession of an imitation firearm and escape from custody stemming from the July 18 incident, the London Evening Standard reported Friday.

The court heard Fofanah was armed with a fake assault rifle when he walked into the Barclays bank with a stocking over his face and demanded money from cashiers. The suspect apparently gave up on his robbery attempt when customers fled the store and he was pursued by an off-duty police officer, an assistant bank manager and a trainee ambulance driver, police said.

Fofanah's path was cut off by a roofer and his co-worker who pulled their van onto the sidewalk when they spotted the pursuit and were able to knock the suspect off his feet with the vehicle. Fofanah fled down a series of alleyways, pursued by the roofer and his colleague, until he was knocked to the ground by another pedestrian. He continued to flee on foot when an ice cream truck driver joined the pursuit and the chase finally ended when the ice cream truck driver and a security guard from the nearby Guy's and St. Thomas' Hospital were able to wrestle him to the ground.

"I would like to thank the members of the public who demonstrated an enormous amount of bravery in confronting Fofanah especially those who showed little fear in tackling him to the ground and keeping hold of him until police arrived," Detective Chief Inspector Paul Johnson said.

Police said the bystanders who joined the chase will receive the Commissioner's Commendation award in a ceremony at Scotland Yard.

Fofanah is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 21.

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