Bomb scare shuts down freeway for hours

January 13, 2012 2:08:53 AM PST
A section of Highway 85 in San Jose was closed in both directions for four hours Thursday afternoon due to concerns about a possible explosive device.

The San Jose police bomb squad detonated two items they thought could be possible explosive devices found in and near a car involved in a bank robbery earlier Thursday.

Two men robbed the Bank of America branch at Snell Avenue and Blossom Hill Road. While one suspect stayed in the car, the other went inside and told tellers he had some sort of explosive device. The teller gave him an undisclosed amount of money. The two suspects then drove off in a blue Honda, but they did not get too far.

A short time later, a motorist reported a blue Honda had been involved in a crash on northbound Highway 85. The car was identified as matching the description of the car from the robbery.

One suspect was arrested at the crash scene. The second man was apprehended a short time later on the Gunderson High School campus. The school was placed on lockdown for about an hour.

Due to concerns about a possible explosive device in the car, police shut down the freeway in both directions while they examined the car. They later detonated two objects on the side of the freeway.

Traffic was snarled for hours after police shut down both highways 85 and 87. VTA light rail service was also halted during the incident because the tracks run along the center of the freeway.

Brave Samaritan caught bank robbery suspect

One brave Samaritan caught one of the bank robbery suspects and placed him under citizen's arrest. There was no officer nearby when the suspects ran from the vehicle on the freeway, but there was the next best thing -- Steve Brown. He is trained in martial arts and president of his own security company.

"I'm a certified instructor, both on the security level as well as law enforcement," said Brown.

Brown was on his way to work when he saw the car crash ahead of him. He thought it was a hit and run, which is why he ran after the two men. One got away, but Brown caught up with the other suspect.

"I got him to the ground and put him in an arm bar and then with one hand I called police," said Brown. "In the beginning, he just resisted heavily and then after when I applied the pressure, he said, 'OK, I'll cooperate.' An everyday, average citizen should just really leave it to the professionals, but at that point the adrenaline was kicking in. I really wanted to stop them from creating any more havoc or damage or hurting people."

San Jose police say while they are grateful for the help today, ideally, they prefer citizens to stay out of harm's way and focus on being good witnesses.