A bank robbery suspect was pulled from a burning vehicle last week Thursday by Kent County Sheriff Deputies after he crashed his car and the engine compartment burst into flames.
According to the Kent County Sheriff Department, a white male entered the Sand Lake branch of Independent Bank at 5 S. 3rd Street, about 4:06 p.m., Thursday, August 18. He passed the teller a note demanding money, and the teller placed an undisclosed amount of money in an envelope. As he exited the bank with the money, the silent alarm was activated, and 911 was called. He was last seen driving southbound on Northland Drive.
A detailed description of the suspect and his vehicle were given to dispatchers. His description was relayed to all police units in the northern part of Kent County as well as to Montcalm County dispatch.
Twenty minutes later, a vehicle that matched the description of the suspect’s vehicle was spotted on 17 Mile Road in Cedar Springs. The deputy was able to see the driver, who also matched the description that had been broadcasted. The vehicle then ramped onto southbound US-131 as the deputy followed. Once a second deputy caught up to the first, they made a traffic stop, but the suspect then sped away, continuing south on US-131. Police said the vehicle reached speeds between 80- 90 mph before slowing down and exiting on Post Dr. The suspect vehicle turned onto Post Drive heading toward Belmont.
A very short time later the suspect’s vehicle appeared to cross into oncoming traffic, side swiping a Jeep Liberty before hitting a second vehicle head on. The suspect’s vehicle then left the roadway and rolled two or three times before coming to a rest.
As Deputies approached the suspect’s vehicle, the engine compartment burst into flames. Deputies were able to pull the suspect from the vehicle and use an extinguisher to extinguish the fire.
A Michigan State Police Sergeant who saw the crash, said that it looked like the suspect appeared to deliberately stray across the centerline to crash into the other vehicle.
Two individuals from the vehicle that was hit head on were treated at the scene and released. One person from the Jeep Liberty was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. The suspect was transported with much more severe injuries to Butterworth Hospital, where it was determined that he broke his leg, injured his neck, and suffered a severe contusion to his chest.
The local FBI office will be handling the actual robbery and the Kent County Sheriff Department will be handling the pursuit. Also assisting on scene was the Michigan State Police and Plainfield Township Fire and Rescue.
According to paperwork filed in Federal Court this week, the suspect is Edward Ray Lucas, 49, who also was convicted of bank robbery in 1999 in Michigan.
The Sand Lake Police Department posted the following thanks on their Facebook page: “The Sand Lake Police Department and the entire community would like to give a huge shout out to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department for their quick response and apprehension of a possible bank robber that occurred at the Independent Bank in the village of Sand Lake. God Bless each and every one of you.”