Police exchanged a hail of gunfire with four suspected bank robbers in Kisumu yesterday as a crowd of terrified residents watched the action from a distance.
Drama unfolded at 11am when the robbers raided Equity Bank’s Ang’awa branch and demanded cash from one of the tellers, who instead raised the alarm, prompting the guards to lock the doors.
In a video that has since gone viral, heavy gunfire could be heard from the building housing the bank after police stormed in and engaged the gangsters for almost three hours.
The operation led to a partial lockdown of the busy Ang’awa Street.
To facilitate their escape, the robbers allegedly threw tear gas canisters at the officers, which created confusion as customers scampered for safety.
Nyanza Regional Commissioner Magu Mutindika said police were yet to establish whether any money had been stolen.
CCTV footage shows one of the raiders changing his shirt before swiftly moving down to escape with other customers in the ensuing confusion.
“We have in our possession a man’s shirt. We suspect they had a change of clothes and left the banking hall during the evacuation of clients. We’ll conduct further investigations and question some of the people we arrested as they attempted to flee the scene,” said Mr Mutindika.
“We want to do a thorough search and appropriate action will be taken against any person who will be found to have been involved in this particular act,” he added.
He said a multi-agency team will analyse the CCTV footage to establish the people who got into the bank as from 9am.
“We want to give the police the adequate time to make sure that they unravel the truth of the matter. From the footage, we will be able to know those who were involved in the attempted bank robbery,” said Mr Mutindika.
At some stage, police under the direction of Nyanza Regional Commander Karanja Muiruri moved to the upper section of the bank using two ladders to gain a height advantage over the robbers.
The fire brigade was also involved as rescuers tried to save those who had been trapped in the bank.
When the gunfight ended, police were holding the bank manager, several staff members and customers for questioning.
After the search, police eventually called off their operation at 2.38pm. An eye witness, Mr Dennis Otieno, who was at the bank during the incident, said things happened so fast.
“I escaped very fast. When we were outside I heard the bank was under attack and then police arrived,” he Otieno.
This is the second time a robbery is being attempted at the same branch.
In October 2015, a suspect was shot dead while five others were arrested in a botched raid.
The customers noticed suspicious characters in the bank and alerted officers.
Police recovered a paper bag with cash, which had been collected from a safe that had been broken into. They also recovered a big spanner that the robber used to threaten the cashiers to surrender the cash, while pretending that it was a gun.