People who witnessed a man jump into a getaway van following a bank robbery Thursday helped lead deputy sheriffs to the arrest of two men believed to be responsible for several armed robberies this week.
Salt Lake County deputy sheriffs and Utah Highway Patrol troopers arrested two California men on I-15 a few hours after the 4:30 p.m. robbery of the Home Savings Bank, 130 E. 3300 South, said sheriff's Lt. Ben Anjewierden.The men are also believed to have been involved in the robbery of the West One Bank, 1575 S. Main, at about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday.
Thursday, a man entered the Home Savings Bank, showed a female teller a gun inside a holster and ordered her to dump the cash out of drawers into a paper sack. The teller emptied two drawers and the robber then ran outside with the cash, a sheriff's report states.
Bank employees followed him, but then lost sight of him as he ran west towards State Street. But deputies were back on the robber's trail when they received a call from a man who wanted to report something suspicious.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Aaron Kennard said the caller was stopped at a red light at 3300 S. State with two other passengers when they noticed a man run around the corner of a building, dive into a van and then lay down on the floor of the vehicle.
"They thought it was kind of strange, so they followed the vehicle," he said.
The man gave deputies the license plate number and even a phone number painted on the side of the rental van. A description of the van was broadcast and an off-duty deputy spotted the van near 3300 South and West Temple. UHP troopers responded to help and the van was eventually pulled over near 400 North on I-15, Kennard explained.
Evidence in the van led deputies to a motel near 4500 South and the freeway, where they arrested a second man believed to be an accomplice. The sheriff said the duo has been in Utah since Monday and are believed to be responsible for "several other robberies" in the area since then.
"We've recovered more money than was taken in the two bank robberies and they left California broke," Kennard said. A sister of one of the men told investigators she had apparently lent them money, thinking they were traveling to San Francisco.
Kennard praised the caller for his assistance in helping deputies arrest the two suspected robbers.
Michael Aurther Flanagan, 23, of Morgan Hills, Calif., and Steven Wayne Phillips, also 23, of San Jose, Calif., were both booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for investigation of aggravated robbery.