Officer on I-4 takedown of bank robbery suspect: 'It was bumper cars out there'
I-4 reopens after OPD's arrest of bank robbery suspect causes shutdown
LAKE MARY, Fla. - The Orlando police department's takedown of an armed bank robbery suspect spilled into Seminole County and shut down a section of I-4 near Lake Mary on Friday, officials said.
Multiple police cruisers were at the scene at Exit 98 and law enforcement helicopters were above it scene as officers boxed the fleeing suspect's vehicle in with theirs.
Orlando police said the incident on I-4 took place less than a half-hour after 50-year-old John Chandler, of Georgia, robbed a bank Friday morning.
Police said Chandler, who was already on probation for a bank robbery out of Georgia, entered the Fifth Third Bank on East Colonial Drive at 10:57 a.m. with a gun and robbed it, police said. Officers said they were able to follow at a distance until it was safe to approach the car.
John Chandler, 50, is accused of robbing an Orlando bank.
"OPD has taken an armed bank robbery suspect into custody on I-4 (eastbound) near the Lake Mary Blvd," Orlando police tweeted shortly after the incident unfolded on the roadway. "No one is injured. We are working hard to clear the scene so traffic can get moving."
Police were directing traffic off the interstate at Exit 98. Both east and westbound lanes were shut down for at least an hour.
Officers later referred to the incident as a "dynamic vehicle takedown." According to a spokesman for the department, 10 to 12 vehicles were involved in the takedown, with four to five of them taking damage when Chandler smashed into them.
“It was bumper cars out there,” the spokesman said.
Orlando police public information officer Michelle Guido said this incident does not classify as a "pursuit."
"Cases where an officer 'follows' a suspect vehicle, but does not or has not engaged in apprehension efforts; do not constitute 'pursuits,'" according to the OPD's vehicle pursuits policy.
Police said the suspect had no idea that the officers were behind him until they began to slow to "snail-speed" and boxed the suspect in. Still, Chandler tried to ram his way out, police said, but officers shattered the glass to his front passenger window.
According to police, the handgun was in the front passenger seat when officers approached Chandler's vehicle.
No officers were injured during the takedown, police said. Chandler was treated for minor injuries after suffering scrapes from the broken glass, the spokesman said.
Overall, officers said the takedown was a success.
"I think it was picture perfect, I couldn’t have asked for a better takedown," Anzueto said.
Eric Babcock was driving along I-4 when the take down happened.
Babock said he had no idea what was going on. He said he saw Orlando police patrol vehicles drive into Seminole County with their lights and sirens on. He saw the cruisers swerve across all lanes of traffic to slow the other cars down until traffic came to a stop.
"OPD officers were getting out of their cruisers, pulling their guns out at that point," Babcock said. "I heard the crash and that's when we came to a halt and I was like, 'Uh oh, something just happened.'"
Police said Chandler confessed to robbing the bank. He faces armed bank robbery charges, as well as aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, fleeing and eluding, and violation of his
probation in Georgia.
Chandler was booked into the Seminole County Jail and is scheduled for a first appearance Saturday morning.
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