Suburban Firefighters Jump Into Action, Capture Alleged Bank Robber

Authorities say two suburban firefighters jumped into action to help apprehend a bank robbery suspect as he sprinted away from the scene of the crime.

The robbery took place at around 3 p.m. on Thursday at the BMO Harris Bank located at 1252 N. Lake St. in west suburban Aurora, according to a criminal complaint filed in district court by the FBI.

The FBI said a man, who they alleged was later identified as Lester Bernard, went into the bank, loitered at the deposit slip counter and then approached a teller's station.

He then passed the teller a bag and a note that read "This is a stick up don't make it a murder! I have a gun! Put the cash in this bag on the counter! No dye packs or u die! And no sudden movements," according to the FBI's criminal complaint.

He then said, "I have a gun. Give me the money. Don't look at the security guard," the FBI alleged.

The teller put approximately $3,393 in the bag, including a stack of "bait bills," authorities said, which Bernard took and fled.

That's when authorities say two firefighters who happened to be in the shopping center parking lot at the time, stopping for lunch, saw the suspect and chased him down.

"I noticed this guy booking out of the bank, running, with a bag," said Lt. Steven Buono, who has been a firefighter for 22 years.

"I just got out of the rig, I see the guy running through the parking lot," he added. "He was weaving in and out of cars trying to dodge us."

Buono, along with his partner Keith O'Donnell, a 13-year veteran of the Aurora Fire Department, said they chased Bernard about 120 yards before tackling him.

"I ripped the bag out of his hand and that’s when we put him on the ground," O'Donnell said.

"Which is when I was able to jump on him and hold him down until the police got here," Buono continued.

"He gave up," O'Donnell said. "He was kind of out of breath so he didn’t have a whole lot to say."

Bernard was taken into custody on the scene and charged with bank robbery, according to the FBI.

The duo said they weren't trained for that kind of situation but relied mostly on instinct and would do it again - but next time with more safety and their families at home in mind.

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