A Long Beach man accused of using a knife to rob a Los Alamitos bank four times in less than two years pleaded not guilty Wednesday, officials said.
Arrested Monday by Los Alamitos police, Keith Alonzo Smith Sr., 41, faces 18 charges, ranging from robbery to resisting arrest. Smith allegedly held up the US Bank at 10942 Pine St. once in 2011, twice in 2012 and, most recently, on Monday morning.
According to the Orange County district attorney's office, Smith faces eight counts of second degree robbery, four counts of second degree burglary, five counts of false imprisonment effected by violence menace, fraud or deceit and a misdemeanor count of resisting an officer. He also faces sentencing enhancements for allegedly using a deadly weapon during the bank robberies.
Los Alamitos police arrested Smith on Monday, after he allegedly robbed a local bank, led police on a short chase, crashed the truck he was driving and then struggled with arresting officers.
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At about 9:14 a.m. Monday, a US bank employee called police and reported a man who looked similar to the 5K Bandit, who had robbed the bank before, had just entered the bank. The employee said the man was wearing a black baseball hat, black sweatshirt, dark sunglasses and a surgical mask -- and was carrying a large knife. The man then showed the knife to a teller and demanded money.
According to Los Al police Capt. Bruce McAlpine, the weapon appeared to be the same or similar to a knife used in the previous robberies. Immediately after the robbery, the man left the bank on foot.
Although there was no vehicle description given to police, McAlpine said in a written statement, an officer watching traffic along Katella Avenue between Los Alamitos Boulevard and the 605 Freeway spotted a person matching the man’s description in a gray 2009 Dodge Charger speeding west on Katella.
When the officer attempted to pursue the vehicle, authorities allege Smith had already entered the north 605 on-ramp. While navigating the ramp, Smith lost control of the vehicle and crashed into an embankment of ice plant.
Smith allegedly tried to evade the officer on foot, but the officer caught Smith as he ran through the ice plant. According to police, the officer and Smith engaged in a brief struggle until backup arrived. After another officer tasered Smith, he was taken into custody.
According to authorities, Smith sustained minor abrasions, but was treated and released to police at the scene by the Orange County Fire Authority. The officer also sustained minor abrasions. However, he did not require medical attention.
About $5,000 was lost in each of the previous robberies. Officials said the theft amount in this incident was unknown. However, officers said they recovered several bundles of currency at the arrest scene. Investigators from the FBI’s Orange County Bank Robbery Apprehension Team will help with the investigation.
Smith was arrested on suspicion of armed robbery and booked at Orange County Jail in Santa Ana.
No bank employees were hurt during the crime.
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