A man suspected of being the so-called Cal Bear Bandit was taken into custody Friday after leading police on a brief pursuit in a carjacked cab following a bank robbery in Westminster, according to the FBI.
The incident began around 3:11 p.m. when the accused robber called for a taxi to meet him outside the Union Bank branch at 15550 Brookhurst St., according to Cmdr. Bill Collins with the Westminster Police Department.
The alleged serial robber entered the bank, handed the teller a note that claimed he had a gun and then fled in the taxi, Collins said.
Witnesses were able to provide police with the number of the taxi and officers tracked down the vehicle within a mile of the bank, according to Collins.
When officers tried to pull over the taxi, the driver complied. But before police could arrest the suspected bandit, he jumped into the front seat and carjacked the cab, authorities said.
About one minute later, the taxi collided with another vehicle at Fairview Street and Edinger Avenue in Santa Ana.
The suspect, identified as 27-year-old Justin Hayes of Irvine, then got out of the car and tried to run away, but officers were able to catch him, according to Collins and the Westminster Police Department. .
Three people in the other car suffered serious injuries and were transported to the hospital.
The Cal Bear Bandit, so named because he often wore a California Republic hat, was suspected of robbing at least seven banks in Orange County in the past five months, according to the FBI.