Vancouver bank robbery suspect hit same branch in ’03

Wells Fargo on NE Vancouver Mall Drive robbed early Tuesday

Andrew Lehr, 47, seen in a 2003 mugshot after he was arrested for robbing the same Wells Fargo bank he allegedly robbed again on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (MCSO)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — An armed masked man robbed a Vancouver branch of a Wells Fargo bank Tuesday morning, then led police on a chase before crashing into an auto business and running into a backyard before being arrested.

Andrew Lehr, 47, seen in a 2003 mugshot after he was arrested for robbing the same Wells Fargo bank he allegedly robbed again on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (MCSO)

Police later identified him as 47-year-old Andrew L. Lehr. Federal officials believe he may be the so-called “Sporty Spice Bandit” who was wanted for other armed bank robberies in recent weeks.

Officers spotted him in a car and a chase ensued, which authorities said reached 100 mph. The silver SUV crashed on the 4700 block of Minnehaha and Lehr ran off. He walked into the branch at 8211 NE Vancouver Mall Drive shortly after 9 a.m., showed a weapon and then fled in a silver SUV, authorities said.

Vancouver police, Clark County deputies and 2 K-9 teams set up a perimeter and found him just south of where he crashed.

A police dog helped capture the suspect and bit him in the process.

He was taken to a hospital to be checked out for any injuries and was released on Wednesday. He was then charged with first-degree robbery, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, attempt to elude and malicious mischief.

KOIN 6 News learned he was arrested for robbing the same Wells Fargo bank in 2003. He was sentenced to 52 months in prison.

Witnesses had close encounters

Matthew Reynolds, who works at Exclusive Films Auto Spa, was a witness after a bank robbery suspect crashed his car into the business, June 13, 2017 (KOIN)
Matthew Reynolds, who works at Exclusive Films Auto Spa, was a witness after a bank robbery suspect crashed his car into the business, June 13, 2017 (KOIN)

Matthew Reynolds, who works at Exclusive Films Auto Spa, said he heard the crash of the suspect’s silver SUV.

“I ran up to the car to see if the guy was OK and he fell out of the passenger side of the vehicle and seemed like he was nervous and shocked from getting hit that hard,” Reynolds told KOIN 6 News.

The suspect began running behind the building and just kept running, he said.

“The cops pulled up right after them and told me to get down, so I ran inside the shop and closed the doors down,” Reynolds said. He said he told a passing officer about an opening on the side of the building where the suspect may have gone.

Police ran into a field behind April Baxter’s backyard, which is where they arrested the suspect. She heard police on the loud speaker during the chase telling the suspect o pull over — and she also heard the crash.

“It was pretty loud, it was really loud, so we’re, like, what’s going on and we could tell it was coming from over there,” Baxter told KOIN 6 News.

“Next thing I know I’ve got officers flying up my driveway. I can see they guy over her in the back corner, I can see his head,” she said.

The officers were yelling to the suspect to get on the ground and at first he didn’t comply, she said.

“It just all happened so fast. The officers come flying up and they have the K-9,” she said, admitting standing in her doorway was “probably not the best plan.”

“They called an ambulance up here and it wasn’t long after that they brought him out of the field,” Baxter said. “I think he was old enough to know better.”

These photos released by the FBI show the so-called Sporty Spice Bandit in June 2017
These photos released by the FBI show the so-called Sporty Spice Bandit in June 2017

It started out as a normal morning, she said, as she took her grandkids to school. Then a suspected bank robber ran right behind her house with police chasing him.

“My blood pressure is way up there,” Baxter told KOIN 6 News. “I just felt so violated. Stay out of my yard, you know? That’s the thing.”

It was really scary, she said. “I’m glad it’s over.”