Suspected Tahoe Bank Robber Nabbed After Chase

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A suspected bank robber led sheriff's deputies on a chase at Lake Tahoe Monday before two highway patrol cruisers rammed his Volkswagen van and he surrendered.

Michael Carl Pope, 52, was booked into the Placer County Jail on suspicion of robbery and assault charges after the chase doubled back past the bank he's accused of robbing and a teller identified his white getaway van.

He could face additional charges because he allegedly tried to hit four pedestrians on State Highway 28 in Kings Beach, sheriff's Capt. Rick Armstrong said.

Deputies recovered money Pope threw out the window during the pursuit at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour on Highway 28 and then north on Highway 267 toward Truckee, Armstrong said.

They recovered an additional "large amount" of money still in Pope's possession, Armstrong said, but declined to say how much.

He is accused of demanding the money from a teller at the Placer Sierra Bank in Kings Beach on Tahoe's north shore about 10:13 a.m. on Monday. He told the teller he was armed and had an armed accomplice outside waiting in a vehicle, Armstrong said.

While the investigation was under way, Washoe County sheriff's deputies from neighboring Incline Village, Nev., stopped a white Volkswagen van for a traffic violation on Highway 28 in Incline Village.

The deputies tried to question the driver, but he sped away and the chase began. When the van passed by the bank, a teller being questioned by investigators told a detective that the van had been parked in a lot behind the bank minutes before the robbery, Armstrong said.

California Highway Patrol troopers said Pope threw a bundle of money out of the vehicle on Highway 267 and that he drove over double-yellow lines several times, nearly colliding with numerous cars and pedestrians.

As he passed the eastbound onramp to Interstate 80 near Truckee, a trooper bumped the van and spun it around. As Pope drove back at pursuing units, a second trooper caused him to spin out and he surrendered to officers, Armstrong said.

The Placer County sheriff's office is seeking witnesses of Pope's alleged reckless driving, he said. Pope "intentionally tried to hit" four pedestrians at the intersection of Highway 28 and Bear in Kings Beach, he said.

Deputies listed Pope's hometown as Lake Tahoe.

Those with any information are asked to contact Placer County sheriff's detective Jeff Davis at 530-581-6326.