Bomb Scare, Bank Robbery Shuts Down Highway 85

Bank robbery turned into traffic nightmare in San Jose

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Police use robots to detonate an object they found in a bank robbery get-a-way vehicle on Highway 85 in San Jose.

    UPDATE: The San Jose bomb squad detonated an object pulled from bank robbery suspect's car at 3:11 p.m. Caltrans opened southbound Highway 85 at 4 p.m. and northbound lanes at 4:45 p.m. Although both directions were open before 5 p.m., the evening commute was slow going for anyone getting through the area.

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    A crash involving two bank robbery suspects shut down Highway 85 in San Jose for hours Thursday.

    Police said two men robbed a Bank of America near Blossom Hill and Snell around 11:30 a.m. The suspects have been identified as 23-year-old Gilroy resident Alfred Apaiz and 35-year-old San Jose resident Luis Barrios.

    By the time police arrived, the suspects had gone. Minutes later an officer who was monitoring the area for the suspects was told by a citizen that a crash had just occurred on Highway 85 near Narvis.

    That crash involved the robbers and an unsuspecting SUV, according to police.

    After the crash, the suspect's car sat in the left lane, while the vehicle it struck was on the far right shoulder.

     This was all happened on northbound Highway 85 just south of the connector to northbound state Highway 87.  Both directions of traffic were closed for more than four hours.

     Police said they arrested the two alleged robbers within minutes of the crash. One of the men was tackled by an off-duty security guard, named Steve Brown, and arrested at the scene, SJPD said. The other man ran away but was captured at nearby Gunderson High School by police officers on motorcycles who were able to take chase through the fields behind the school, according to police.

    The crash quickly turned to a bomb scare because one of the men in custody said that there was explosives inside the car.

    A bomb squad, which included two remote robots, was called to the scene.  The robots spent more than two hours inspecting the vehicle, one on each side of a blue sedan on Highway 85 or taking turns looking at various areas of the car.

    At 2:45 p.m. the robots removed a cylinder type object from the vehicle. One of the robots blew it up at 3:10 p.m.  The explosion was enough to leave a black mark the size of two tires on the side of the sound wall.

    The explosion appeared to clear the scene from any bomb scare, but the road remained shut down so that investigators could take evidence from the crash.

    Traffic was shut down in both directions starting around noon.  Caltrans did not reopen both directions of traffic until just before 5 p.m. They said the delay between the all clear and the opening was caused because there were not able to begin their investigation of the crash prior to shutting down the highway in the first place. That evidence gathering began after the bomb scare ended and lasted fewer than two hours.

    A viewer sent in the photo to the left. They were among the first drivers impacted by the crash.

    Gunderson High School was placed on lockdown for about half an hour, but the lockdown was lifted at about 12:30 p.m., according to a teacher at the school  who requested not to be named. "Everyone's fine. The kids are out at lunch," she told Bay City News. The school let out at its normal time, according to school officials.
       
    Traffic on Highway 85 was diverted onto the Santa Teresa  Boulevard exit during the shut down which turned the South Bay commute to a crawl for anyone trying to get on Highway 85, 87 or any of the surrounding streets.

    The incident, which began before lunchtime, lasted through the evening commute. It also forced the closure of the light rail system south to the Blossom Hill stop for a time because the train tracks were within just a few feet of the vehicle in question.

    View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.