LOS ANGELES (AP) — It was a money monsoon when a pair of suspected bank robbers with the cops hot on their trail wove through the streets of South Los Angeles in a stolen SUV, raining money out the windows to the delight of passers-by.
Wednesday's cash shower quickly ended when another vehicle, inadvertently or otherwise, blocked the SUV's path on a narrow, crowded street and Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies rushed in to arrest two men in the car.
Two other people had bailed out of the vehicle soon after four armed robbers stuck up a Bank of America branch in suburban Santa Clarita on Wednesday morning and fled in a stolen SUV.
As sheriff's deputies quickly took after them, TV helicopters arrived overhead, and for the next 90 minutes or so the chase, over Southern California freeways, across Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley, into downtown and, finally, over to the city's South Side, was carried live by local TV news stations. It covered about 40 miles.
It was in the northeast corner of the San Fernando Valley that the two passengers bailed out.
It was just past downtown that cash began flying out the windows, after the vehicle exited a freeway and began weaving through surface streets. Police believe the dollar deluge may have been an effort to get people to rush into the street and block the path of the pursuing patrol cars.
"A lot of people came out their houses, they saw this on TV, they saw that money was being thrown," police Cmdr. Andrew Smith told KNBC-TV.
And lot of them did rush out into the street to grab it.
"It's our neighborhood stimulus package!" Diane Dorsey, who lives in the modest residential neighborhood and watched the drama unfold from her front yard, told the Los Angeles Times.
As sheriff's deputies arrested the two men, hundreds of people gathered around, and Los Angeles police officers had to move in to keep them back. Smith said he heard from one that people believed there was more money in the SUV and they were going to grab it.
Authorities aren't saying how much money rained on the neighborhood, but they made it clear Thursday they want it back. Keeping it is a crime and TV cameras were running as people grabbed it.
"We would still urge people to return the money," police spokesman Richard French said Thursday. "Anyone would encourage someone to return stolen money."
He wasn't aware, however, if any significant amount, or any amount at all, had been turned in. Neither was Deputy Tuillermina Saldana of the Sheriff's Department.