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By Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department has identified Scott Harrison as the man who allegedly robbed Pacific Western Bank before leading law enforcement on a chase from Dana Point to Rancho Santa Margarita.
Police received reports on Friday, April 19 at around 4 p.m. that there had been a robbery at 34180 Pacific Coast Highway in Dana Point.
Rich Holt, a resident and contractor in Dana Point, told Dana Point Times he was in the drive-thru line during the robbery and witnessed the incident through the teller window.
“I pulled up to make a deposit at 3:42 p.m. I could see the teller with her hands up in the air, and I asked her if she was OK,” Holt said. “She told me no.”
Holt said he could see the robber with a mask on and his gun pointed in the air as he was putting money in his bag. Holt then drove to the parking lot at La Plaza Park to call 911. While speaking to the operator, Holt saw the suspect riding his bicycle on La Plaza. Holt followed the suspect while driving his car about 100 feet behind.
“So many thoughts were going through my head,” Holt said. “I didn’t know if I should run him over with my car or what. But I stayed on the phone with the operator, so police could know where to find him. I didn’t see any officers approaching, so I continued to follow him.”
According to Holt’s testimony, the suspect turned right onto Violet Lantern and then turned left onto Castano Drive.
“I saw him put his bicycle in the bed of a truck and cover it with a moving blanket,” Holt said. “(The suspect) got in his car and took off his mask and drove onto Selva Road before getting in the left turning lane before Golden Lantern.”
Before the suspect could make the turn, Holt says five police cars converged on the suspect. The suspect then took off and initiated a police chase that lasted about an hour.
Holt says that when the chase began, he returned to Pacific Western Bank and recounted the events with law enforcement.
The truck the suspect was driving crashed into a parked car while making a U-turn and came to a stop at Avenida de las Banderas and Avenida Empresa in Rancho Santa Margarita. A SWAT team attempted to engage with the suspect, but authorities found the suspect dead about 45 minutes later.
The county coroner’s office determined that 62-year-old Harrison, of Las Vegas, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. FBI officials say they are investigating whether Harrison was the “Leatherface Bandit” connected to three other bank robberies in Orange County. The other robberies occurred March 7 at a OneWest Bank in Corona del Mar, March 8 at a Citibank in Costa Mesa and April 9 at an Opus Bank in Yorba Linda.