Reminiscent of a Hollywood movie scene, three suspects led Hall County authorities Wednesday on a chase into Gwinnett County after allegedly robbing an armored vehicle just in front of the Walmart in Oakwood.
Police said after robbing the armored truck employee at gunpoint, the suspects then led police on a high-speed chase into Gwinnett County before their vehicle crashed and the suspects ran.
After searching for the suspects in the area of Woodward Mill road, police tracked them down with the assistance of multiple K-9 units.
Oakwood Police Chief Randall Moon said his department received a call about the robbery at 10:06 a.m. Four suspects — three men and one woman — approached a Loomis armored truck and "forcibly took" money from the armed driver.
A struggle ensued between the suspects and the guard, also armed.
"I'm not sure about any (suspect) weapons at this time, whether they were pointed (at the Loomis employees)," Moon said.
"They took an undisclosed amount of money, got in the car and left," he added.
Authorities, arriving on the scene, got vehicle and suspect descriptions from witnesses and alerted other law enforcement.
The suspects, fleeing in an SUV, were chased by Oakwood police and Hall County deputies. When the chase entered Gwinnett County, authorities there joined.
Authorities said the suspects crashed their SUV in a creek near Woodward Mill Road and were pursued by police dogs. Roberts Elementary School in Buford, as well as an area neighborhood, were placed on lockdown while police searched for the suspects.
Cpl. Danny Sridej with the Oakwood Police Department identified the suspects as Calvin Antonio Westbrook, 28, Antonio Gore, 19 and Terry Rivers, 19.
Oakwood police, who had been training at a nearby hotel when the incident happened, had cordoned off the area around the pharmacy/bank entrance to Walmart and questioned witnesses for several minutes.
"Between the witnesses and the video system at Walmart, we've got some pretty good (information)," Moon said.
Maj. Woodrow Tripp with the sheriff's office said a fourth suspect was seen in surveillance photos, but authorities are no longer certain a fourth suspect exists.
"Oakwood (Police Department) stated from surveillance photos at the scene that a fourth person was observed. We could not determine that and, in fact, the three that were apprehended was done so in a relatively short distance and within 30 minutes of them abandoning their vehicle in the creek," Tripp said.
The FBI also is investigating the robbery.
A medical unit arrived at the scene to check on the condition of the Loomis employees. No one was injured, Moon said.
Senior Vice President of Risk Management for Loomis Danny Pack commended authorities' response to the incident.
"We are very happy that our employees and the general public haven't been affected or harmed," Pack said.
This was the second attack on a Loomis armored vehicle in recent weeks in the metro Atlanta area. Three men also held up an armored car employee Dec. 30 at a recycling facility in East Point.
Authorities are looking into any possible connection between the two incidents, Tripp said.
Pack said Loomis employees are instructed to avoid conflict whenever such a situation arises.
"Our employees recognize that if indeed they have an opportunity to surrender the liability is much less important than their personal safety," he said. "It's the best approach and we have always maintained that approach for many years."
The police chase was the second in the past few weeks that started in Hall and ended in another county. In the other, James Thomas Faulkner of Flowery Branch led police on a high-speed chase starting on McEver Road in Hall and ending with him crashing in Johns Creek in Fulton County.
Faulkner faces charges of theft by taking motor vehicle, battery, false imprisonment, terroristic threats, failure to register as a sex offender, as well as two White County charges for aggravated assault.
Staff writers Jeff Gill, Patrick Stoker and Aaron Hale contributed to this report.