Police: 4 in custody after woman claims she was being forced to rob Westside bank

Robbery of SunTrust Bank on Lane Avenue in Jacksonville thwarted

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An attempted robbery of a bank on Jacksonville's Westside on Tuesday morning was thwarted by an alert bank employee who hit the panic button and an FBI agent who heard the call go out and took three people into custody.

Jacksonville police said a woman in her 30s entered the SunTrust Bank on South Lane Avenue about 9:50 a.m. and sat down in a waiting area. She was approached by a banker about 10 minutes later and asked for a piece of paper and a pen. While writing a note, she told a bank employee she was being forced to rob the bank by three people who were sitting outside in an SUV. The bank locked all the doors and summoned help.

A federal agent who was the first law enforcement officer to arrive stopped a red SUV poised to pull out of the parking lot and took two men and a woman inside it into custody.

"If it wasn't for him (the FBI agent) being in the area, that SUV would have been long gone," JSO robbery Lt. Derek Boucher said.

Police said the woman inside the bank, who they learned had a weapon, was also detained. All four people were taken downtown for questioning.

Taylor Kellenberg was arriving at the bank just after the attempted robbery.

"I got to be there when the cops were there. I thought it was cool, I got to see all the action," Kellenberg said.

This is the 10th robbery or attempted robbery of a bank in Jacksonville this year, according to News4Jax records. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office has cleared five with arrests. Last year, there were 18 bank robberies, and JSO cleared all of them. 

About the Authors: