BY TANYA BRICKING
The Cincinnati Enquirer
It might have been a classic bank robbery, if not for a few chaotic details.
The suspected getaway driver, who had a baby riding in the back seat of her Pontiac, got away initially -- but not with any of the robbery suspects. The suspected robbers themselves were caught -- after leaving a paper trail of cash.
The dramatic case of cops and robbers began about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, when two men followed employees into the Fifth Third Bank at Harrison and Spring Grove avenues in the West End and forced them to open a vault.
It was the 17th bank robbery in Hamilton County this year -- already topping last year's total of 15.
"What's probably most striking to us is we've had nine since July 2," FBI spokesman Ed Boldt said.
In this case, the robbers threatened employees with a gun, forced them to open a vault and took off with money and keys to an employee's red Toyota 4 Runner, police said.
A chase ensued as one of the suspects left in what police think was the getaway car, a blue 1991 Pontiac Sunbird, and three others fled in the Toyota.
Both cars pulled into the lot of the McDonald's in Winton Place. An officer tried to stop the woman in the Pontiac, but left her to chase the passenger, who had fled on foot. The driver then drove off.
The men in the Toyota also ran, but officers caught them.
Police found bundles of cash apparently dropped as the suspects tried to escape through Winton Place.
Arrested were: Timothy E. Pope, 19, Madisonville, three counts of aggravated robbery; Eric L. Chaffer, 18, West End, auto theft and three counts of complicity to aggravated robbery; Trenton Pope, 18, no address available, three counts of aggravated robbery and three counts of kidnapping; and Clifford Jones, 21, West End, three counts of aggravated robbery and three counts of kidnapping.
By Tuesday night, police had arrested the suspected getaway driver, Sarah Schmidt, 21, Sharonville. She was charged with escape and three counts of complicity to aggravated robbery.